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Local Universities advised to partner with businesses

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Botswana universities and colleges have been challenged to forge business partnerships with local businesses. Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Chief Executive Parminder Vir Obe was in Botswana last week where she urged institutions of higher learning in the country to form relationships with businesses and share knowledge of common interest. She stated that lot of big businesses and corporations sometimes stop innovating and it is the young entrepreneurs and university graduates who can see gaps in the industry and proffer solutions.

“Entrepreneurs need those business solutions and the universities should use those leverages and power,” she said while addressing entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the SME ecosystem at the University of Botswana. “I have seen it (partnerships) in the United Kingdom (UK) where I have lived and worked. It’s there as well in the United States (US) and India and universities are important hubs and are becoming an important asset in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Vir OBE whose organisation was established in 2010. TEF is the leading philanthropy organisation in Africa championing entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs across the continent. University of Botswana management lecturer, Dr Gaofetoge Ganamotse, said students in Botswana are struggling to embrace the entrepreneurship drive. Dr Ganamotse graduate unemployment can only be addressed through engaging entrepreneurial activities.

She stated that there is need to come up with initiatives that could encourage people to think about entrepreneurship as an alternative career. Dr Ganamotse added that there is need to provide policies that will encourage people to venture into entrepreneurship programmes. “We should inculcate the entrepreneurship mindset from as low as primary education up to the tertiary level. Entrepreneurship education should not be for one faculty or programme but should be for all the courses,” said the UB official. She said UB has already introduced a number of courses in entrepreneurship up to Master’s level. Dr Ganamotse expressed interest in partnering with TEF and do more entrepreneurship research. The Foundation’s flagship initiative, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, is a 10-year, $100 million commitment to identify, train mentor and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs, capable of changing the face of business across Africa.

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SMEs benefit from Consumer Fair growth

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The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has applauded Botswana Consumer Fair’s continued efforts to improve small to medium enterprises’ linkages.

BITC Chief Executive Officer, Keletsositse Olebile, when opening the fair, said the event has provided interactive forum for both local and foreign exhibitors. He said the shopping show has enabled manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to market their products directly to consumers, an alignment to government’s endeavors.

“As part of government intention, we continually encourage local sourcing by retailers and distributors,” said Olebile who is just few months into his new post. He further celebrated the growth of Botswana Consumer Fair over the years, attributing the expansion to quality of goods displayed at the previous shows.“Improved quality and increased variety of wares increases the interest of the visitors and makes them look forward to returning the following year,” said Olebile.

This year’s exhibitors at the 13th event still running under the banner: ‘It is more than just shopping’ have been drawn from Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, India, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Consumer Fair is a flagship event for Fairgrounds Holdings and provides a platform for small medium enterprises (SMEs) from the different sectors of the economy to showcase and promote their products and services. In addition, the SMEs are expected to establish long term business linkages and promote local manufactured goods.Fairgrounds Holdings is already optimistic that the Fair immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through supporting SMEs.

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‘Involve SMMEs in standards development’-Minister

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo appealed to Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to include the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) when developing the standards to improve the sector.

She said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has identified three areas of focus going forward which are modeled on SMME development, investment promotion and export development apexes. “I would like to implore you to include this sector in standards development processes and assist in improving SMMEs conformity to standards and compliance to technical regulations,” said Kenewendo.

Speaking during the BOBS Technical Committee Members appreciation ceremony on Thursday, Kenewendo explained that the important roles of standards are underpinned by the aspirations and intentions espoused in both diversified export led economic growth and job creation as priority areas. “It goes without saying that the diversification of the economy requires a National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework that promote competitiveness of Botswana goods and services.”

She also emphasized that an effective National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework are essential as they provide crucial links to global trade, market access and export competitiveness through their contribution to consumer confidence in product safety, quality and the environment.Since inception in 1997 BOBS has published more than 1700 standards through 48 technical committees across several sectors of the economy; 109 certification licences have been issued against some of these standards. Currently 46 Botswana Standards are being implemented through the standards regulations with a view to protecting the health and safety of consumers as well as protection of the environment.

On her note, BOBS Vice Chairperson of the Standards Council, Professor Edward Dintwa said standards are powerful tools for helping organisations that implement them to realize their potential, have access and compete in the global marketplace. “In this highly competitive and complex world, issues of sustainability and productivity, viewed from economic, environmental and societal perspectives require that businesses must be more efficient in their operations, which can be achieved through the implementation of standards”.

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