United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched Business Supplier Development Programme whose objective is to support the private sector.
The programme is being rolled out in collaboration with its local partners and targets a range of sectors and their value chains such as mining, projects (infrastructure), agro-processing, leather and textiles.
The programme comes at a time when government is prioritising entrepreneurship and finalising the small and medium entrepreneurs (SME) policy of 1998. The expectation is that it will be ready before the end of the year according to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry if Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI), Peggy Serame.
Serame said at the launch of the programme on Wednesday in Gaborone this week that the programme will develop the SMEs and goes well with the long-term objective of economic diversification.
She said the programme will also facilitate access to markets and eventually lead them to be able to export their products.
The Project Manager, Tumi Mbaakanyi, said the programme will take three to four months and thereafter an evaluation will be conducted to see if it can be continued.
The programme, she said, targets 80 - 100 suppliers who will all go through capacity building, 20 – 25 consultants and buyers. Training will be rolled out for three months and each consultant will be required to bring along an SME.
All these, Mbaakanyi said, is aimed at reshaping the local economy and moving it from the current state where government is the dominant buyer and make the private sector an equally important player in buying.
She explained that it would be an advantage if a company is already supplying a buyer. One of the targeted sectors, which is mining, is said to possess a huge potential which can benefit from this programme.
Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) CEO Charles Siwawa said the have already sold the programme to their members who are willing to participate in it. He said they would like to see local companies becoming big suppliers of the mining industry in Botswana.
“The economy of Ghana sits squarely on this type of programme,” Siwawa said, adding that Botswana too can become a success story from this programme.
However, Siwawa said one issue that is of concern, and is not only limited to the mining sector is the issue of quality. He told the delegates at the launch of the programme that there are thousands of opportunities that exist in the mining sector and suppliers should bear in mind that they are competing for these opportunities with new entrants.