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VCF promises to transform Botswana agribusiness

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Over 200 members of the Value Chain Farming (VCF) Africa-Botswana are optimistic that if they work together they will ultimately be able to feed the nation and sell beyond borders. The farmers converged in a three-day Summer School and Conference theme, ‘Unlocking Agricultural Opportunities,’ that took place at Ave Maria Conference Centre and Botswana Univeristy of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) in Sebele, hosted in partnership with Botswana Insurance Company. Speaking at the event, Managing Director of Value Chain Farming Africa, Tshepiso Ntshobotho said the event is a bi-annual school that runs during summer and a second session in the winter session called Agribusiness Winter School and Conference.

She explained that the events are designed as crash classes in latest critical information on Agribusiness. “The conference is critical to my farmers, my partners and even for my environment. “We have focused on problems in Agriculture for far too long. What I have been craving for is solutions and new innovations to tackle these problems,” she said. VCF Africa is an Agribusiness Consortium of BEXA Consulting, Private Department of Food Energy and Enviromental Studies (DAFEES) both in Italy, Alieforg in Zimbabwe and Longreach International, which Ntshobotho co-owns. Ntshobotho, who has a Degree in Animal Health and Production, said her company is geared up for massive transformation of the Botswana Agribusiness industry.

“Our thrust is not only to close the import gap but have connected our farmers to the global market. The World Bank has said by 2050, 80 percent of the world’s food will be coming from Africa. We hold the world’s largest chunk of arable land. We have always been destined to take care of the world.” According to Ntshobotho, VCF is connected to the continent biggest Tilapia farmer and distributor, that is, Lake Harvest that operates according to the highest world standards. The organisation is also connected to the continent’s biggest fresh produce distributor, Rolex Imports and Exports with its core expertise in air and land freight of perishable produce. VCF has connections with Global Markets through their sole standing subsidiary, Nhimbe Imports and Exports.

“My company is part of a network of over 7 000 food exporters and importers. I am talking of our produce not only having access to local chains but also going as far as big food chains like TESCO. Our goals for Botswana include; to have 80 000 commercial Good Agriculture Practices certified farms over the next 10 years; 400 000 hectares of irrigated land; 486 345 direct job and 80 109 processing centres,” Ntshobotho said. Currently, VCF represent over 200 active members of the Value Chain Farming Africa-Botswana network. “We are processing their funding through a local bank,” Ntshobotho said. She is confident that her company will sustain member-farmers through five key pillars who have decided to commercialise and expand their market beyond Botswana. The key pillars are; access to finance, access to markets, access to information, access to water and access to contemporary efficient technology.

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Matambo calls on financial sector to pick GDP

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Finance Minister, kenneth Matambo

Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo has announced that government is committed to support financial service sector to prop up the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Currently contributing over 13 percent to GDP, Matambo said the sector has potential to increase its share. “Hence government’s interest in the sector,” said Matambo addressing delegates at the inaugural Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL), Global Financial Summit.

The country has built a strong, resilient and fast growing financial sector underpinned by a robust regulatory framework. The finance minister who is expected to step down next year, noted that government’s commitment to the financial service sector has this year been buttressed by a number of laws passed in July relating to money laundering activities.

In addition, Matambo said the continued investment in the development of information, communication and technologies (ICTs) backbone infrastructure is also to support local banks’ rising appetite for online services.

The Minister said the country remains committed to maintaining micro-economic stability to spur private sector participation in the economy. “Our vision is to become a high income country by 2036,” said Matambo, challenging the private sector to step forward and help government to develop the country, bemoaning the low levels of financial inclusion and shallow domestic capital markets.

He said the private sector should come up with more initiatives to develop further the local capital markets. The Minister’s sentiments were also shared by Martin Davies, Managing Director for Emerging Markets and Africa at Deloitte who has challenged the country to start dealing with its low manufacturing value add.

“How do we start to diversify beyond the single commodity economy,” quizzed Davies, adding that manufacturing increase is vital for low inequality across the country.

“Inequality results in bad public policy, as the state starts to believe and think they have to intervene more,” said Davies, highlighting that the country needs to move away from the absolute concept of state drive growth. Meanwhile, minister Matambo has applauded the private sector for leading economic dialogue in the country through events such as the BIHL Global Finance Summit.

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First Lady advises women entrepreneurs

Keikantse Lesemela

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First lady, Neo Masisi

First Lady, Neo Masisi has urged women entrepreneurs to bring change in the economic development of the country and the rest of Africa.

Speaking during the Lioness Lean in Africa breakfast on Friday, Masisi said women entrepreneurs are remarkable engines of economic growth and job creation. “I believe women entrepreneurs hold incredible potential and credentials on the continent because Africa has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world.

It is projected that millions of much needed jobs will be created over the next decade and these will be created predominantly through small businesses which are mostly run by women,” said Masisi.She highlighted that women entrepreneurs are also the most powerful engine for equitably distributing growth and they are also solutions for addressing inequality on the continent.

“It is a proven fact that for many generations, women understand the simple concept of barter and commerce. These are the role models of our past and our present and they will continue to inspire new generations to do more for business to grow,” she said.

The Lioness Lean In Breakfast Series brings together inspirational and successful women entrepreneurs to share, inspire and connect with the next generation of great women-led start-ups.

The platform is based on a breakfast networking and speaker presentation format, which has been organized in locations across the African continent for the past year by Lionesses of Africa, empowering over one million women entrepreneurs across the continent.

Stanbic Bank Botswana Head of Personal Markets, Omphemetse Dube said they are pleased to bring the Lionesses of Africa Lean In platform to Botswana once again to bring together women entrepreneurs in the country and help to nurture their growth further.

“Botswana is blessed with a number of thriving female entrepreneurs, and the potential for the next generation of talent is strong. Platforms such as this are therefore paramount in growing the cause and we as a bank are proud to help champion that movement further,” said Dube.

Founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa,Melanie Hawken noted that Gaborone is a growing and exciting centre for women’s entrepreneurship in Africa. “This is a must-attend event for women entrepreneurs in the country as it gives them the opportunity to hear the inspiring entrepreneurial stories of women who are building great businesses here,” she said.

The annual Lionesses of Africa event allows entrepreneurs to benefit from the insights and advice of women entrepreneurs who have seen and experienced it all and to also provide an excellent opportunity for networking.

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