I would like to recognize our partners from the local civil society organizations, our co-partners in this venture, Dr. Latha Poonamallee, Fulbright Specialist, and Botswana Network of AIDS Service Organizations, government counterparts, private sector representatives, guests from academic institutions, the media, and other invited guests.
I am pleased to open this activity, which is being supported by the United States Government’s Fulbright Specialist program. This is the first time in many years that Botswana has hosted a Fulbright Specialist and we hope your organizations will be inspired by Dr. Poonamallee to look into all of the Fulbright programs we support in Botswana.
In Botswana, particularly in response to the HIV epidemic, civil society organizations have played, and continue to play, important roles. The U.S. government, as one of the largest funders to civil society, is committed to exploring solutions to ensure sustainable, strong institutions which promote accountable, transparent, and democratic governance, protecting the rule of law and human rights for all. Supporting the Government of Botswana in formalizing social contracting, building capacity of civil society organizations to mobilize non-traditional resources, are the reason you are all here today and for the next three days, promoting social entrepreneurship in Botswana.
Entrepreneurship is a concept that is well known in Botswana and is being supported on many fronts: The Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment is currently finalizing a new national entrepreneurship policy; Government continues to provide technical and financial support to local entrepreneurs through such entities as the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency and the Local Enterprising Authority; The private sector supports entrepreneurship through programs such as the Stanford Seed Program and through the banking industry; The education sector is also supporting local entrepreneurs through degree programs and short courses.
However, the concept of social entrepreneurship is less well known and, to date, poorly supported. But you are here to change that. Over the next three days, civil society organizations, the private sector, the United States government, universities and representatives of the Government of Botswana, will discuss the concept of social entrepreneurship, support civil society organizations to develop their own social entrepreneurship plans, and explore ways to embed social entrepreneurship throughout Botswana.
But our efforts won’t end here. Dr. Poonamallee will also work with some of you to further refine these plans to source funding. This will show Botswana that civil society organizations are capable of working in the entrepreneurial space and encourage others to engage. Dr. Poonamallee will also develop resources and create an enabling environment to support civil society organizations and social entrepreneurship in Botswana well beyond her visit.
I am excited about this program as social entrepreneurship bridges two important areas of U.S. government support in Botswana - support for social programs and economic development. USAID has supported civil society organizations implementing HIV activities in Botswana for nearly a decade, providing resources for HIV service delivery and support to Orphans and Vulnerable Children, among other areas, as well as capacity building in organizational management, governance, monitoring and evaluation, and financial management. The U.S. government also has a long history of supporting entrepreneurship in Botswana. Just last week I attended an event with the American Business Council highlighting how U.S. government resources have benefited small and medium enterprises in this country.
Social entrepreneurship IS entrepreneurship - and a strong social entrepreneurship program can contribute significantly in Botswana’s overall economic growth. Social entrepreneurs employ staff, make products or provide services, train people, and strengthen the economy while ensuring civil society’s ability to continue its important work. I hope you will come away from this workshop with a strong interest in both your own organization’s ability to support social entrepreneurship, either as an implementer or as a supporter, and in moving the social entrepreneurship agenda forward in Botswana. As Gregory Dees of Duke University, known as the father of social entrepreneurship, said, “Social entrepreneurs play the role of change agents in the social sector. Social entrepreneurs are one special breed of leader, and they should be recognized as such. We need social entrepreneurs to help us find new avenues toward social improvement as we enter the next century.” The U.S. government applauds your mission to create and sustain social value.
USAID held the Civil Society Workshop to engage civil society organizations (CSOs), the Government of Botswana, private sector representatives, and academic institutions as the capstone event of social entrepreneurship (SE) program in Botswana, led by Fulbright Specialist Dr. Latha Poonamallee. The workshop will support CSO development and implementation of SE plans and to explore the respective roles and potential contributions. This program supports Mission Objective 1.2: Botswana has strong institutions, which promote accountable, transparent, and democratic governance, protecting the rule of law and human rights for all.
*Ambassador Craig L. Cloud's Remarks at the Social Entrepreneurship event that was held this morning at Masa Hotel.