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Businesses urged to embrace diversity in age, gender, and ethnicity

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The International Business Report conducted by Grant Thornton indicates that there is a need for diversity in businesses in age, gender and ethnicity. The report indicates that in Botswana, 58 percent of businesses believe ethnic diversity is important to their success, while 40 percent of businesses in other countries believe ethnicity is important for their growth, and 14 percent are taking action to improve the diversity of their senior teams According to the report, many businesses globally are missing out on opportunities because of a lack of diversity in senior leadership teams. “This means that a business does not necessarily reflect the markets or communities in which they operate, and it could be holding them back,” states the report. About 2 500 business leaders in 35 countries were captured in this report.

“We find that businesses are, for the most part, not ethnically or gender diverse. Age diverse teams are more common, although it is far from the norm to have a senior team member who is under 35 years old” reads the report. Grant Thornton Botswana Partner, Anjaya Suresh said diversity of thought gives businesses a competitive edge, and thus businesses need to embrace diversity in age, gender and ethnicity in their work force especially at senior management level, and look for ways to become inclusive organisations. “A diverse workforce is a reflection of a changing world and marketplace, and organisations should thrive to reflect the markets or communities in which they operate within their business model. There are many challenges in managing a diverse workforce that requires strategic planning beyond simply acknowledging differences in people,” she said.

She said strategic planning involves recognising the value of differences, combating discrimination, and promoting inclusiveness. “It is pleasing to note that African business leaders are at the forefront in acknowledging the importance of diversity, and I encourage local business leaders to grasp the opportunity to promote the growth of businesses and our community at large through diversification,” said Suresh. The report also indicates that in 2017, globally one in four senior roles are now held by women but only 25 percent, parity between men and women at executive level is still a long way off. In terms of age 51 percent majority of businesses think an age diverse team is important, which appears to reflect the composition of senior teams, while Botswana reflects a significantly higher belief in the importance of age diversity at 72 percent. Suresh highlighted that there is still a gap between perceived importance of age diversity and plans to improve it.

“Only 16 percent of businesses globally, and 12 percent of businesses in Botswana are taking action to extend their age range,” she said, adding that 26 percent of senior teams, globally, include an individual who is older than 64 years old, while 24 percent have a senior member who is aged 35 or younger. In Botswana, 10 percent of senior teams include an individual who is older than 64 years old, and 72 percent have a senior member who is aged 35 or younger. She explained that businesses should check for gaps in their perspective and consider expanding the skill set of senior teams by reaching out to different age groups who may bring a different generational perspective to key business issues like digitalisation and automation.

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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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