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Computer engineer makes fashion accessories to survive

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Five years after waiting to employed, Crafts Café founder, Boikhutso Salang transformed her hobby into a sustainable business venture. She designs and manufactures handbags, bracelets, neckpieces, peplum belts and other fashion accessories with an African print material. She started the business in 2015. In an interview with Business Trends, Salang, 31, explained that growing up, crafts and sewing were her passion but she never thought it could become her job. She has a degree in Computer Engineering and Software Development.

“I am somebody who likes handiwork, I always look for something I can do, so sewing and designing was my hobby when I was growing up. I never thought it can be my job, so I studied computer engineering and hoped I would find a job in this field,” said Salang. She said with the high unemployment rate in the country she realised that she has to find the means of making money to sustain herself. She started the business with the little money from her pocket as it was not easy to get funding. “I started the business with just P2500. 00.

Although I applied for the Youth Development Fund in 2015 but they never gave me a response so I just started with what I had,” she said.She said the business is doing well and she would not leave it for any job as she is now following her passion. She is currently operating from home in Broadhurst. She uses social media platforms like Facebook to market her products. Prices range from P100 to P300 depending on the product and the sizeAmong the challenges she is limited by lack of machinery as she currently has one sewing machine, “I want to make more products and diversify from just small accessories and make fashionable clothes,” she said.She uses some of the off-cuts from tailors.

“I buy a bag of off-cuts but this is not enough because the pieces are small so it takes a lot of time to join them. If I had enough money, I could buy a lot of fabrics that will enable me to do a lot of products,” said Salang.

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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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