Organisers of the 2018 Global Expo say all exhibition space has been taken and they are now looking for an overflow to cater for the extra demand they are faced with. DIPOPEGO JULIUS TSHEKO, Manager, Projects - Global Expo Botswana, discusses the Expo and its growing stature in the world.
What is “Global Expo Botswana” and how do you differentiate it from other Expos?
TSHEKO: Global Expo Botswana (GEB) was conceptualised by the Government of Botswana in 2006 as a premier business-to-business exposition that could help the country to meet its objectives of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), expansion of domestic investment, the promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services as well as the promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries. The GEB is organised and managed internally by Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC). The main difference between GEB and other retail shows is that GEB is a purely business-to-business exposition where business people meet to share business ideas and discuss other business-related issues with the possibility of striking partnerships such as joint ventures, supply contracts and so on.
What quantifiable achievements has the Expo made over the years?
TSHEKO: I can confidently state that GEB has made huge strides in the past 12 years of its existence. Without getting into too much detail, I can briefly highlight the following: GEB introduced an international investment and trade conference in 2013. This sub-event of the GEB continues to grow in leaps and bounds year after year, and is nowadays the main attraction of the GEB, besides the exhibition, of course. This conference has attracted very prolific global business people and academics alike to come and discuss pertinent topics relevant to our current and prospective economic climate; Just last year, GEB 2017 attracted 208 exhibitors from 16 countries, apart from the host Botswana, notably: India, South Africa, South Korea, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Ghana, Indonesia, Namibia, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Poland, Sweden, Portugal & Mozambique; There were 4580 visitors at GEB 2017 compared to 3233 visitors for GEB 2016 against a target of 4000 visitors; Sir Richard’s session: GEB 2017 hosted a session that featured global entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson on the 2nd November 2017. More than 500 people participated at this event; many long-term business partnerships between our local companies and their foreign counterparts have been achieved as a direct result of the GEB.
How is the global appeal of the Expo in terms of international exhibitors?
TSHEKO: Just last year we hosted 16 countries right here on our turf, and we expect the numbers to increase this year, especially after the elevated profile that GEB has been enjoying since the much-talked high profile visit by one of this planet’s most imminent sons and prolific businessmen, Sir Richard Branson.
What new initiatives should we expect at this year’s Global Expo?
TSHEKO: There are a couple of new initiatives, with the most notable one this year being the GEB Investment Battlefield - The GEB Investment Battlefield is an initiative of the Global Expo Botswana (GEB) and would serve as a platform whereby local budding entrepreneurs could pitch their business ideas in order to secure investment finance from a panel of local and international angel investors and venture capitalists in exchange for some shares in the entrepreneurs’ company. This will be in the mould of your “Dragon’s Den” or “Shark Tank”, for those who follow these business programmes on television. The other highlight is the Grant Thornton PBGA Awards that will be hosted by BITC in conjunction with Grant Thornton during the Official Opening ceremony of GEB 2018. This will be to honour BITC’s clients; being the Investors and the Exporters. There will also be a high-level visit by the Honourable Shri Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu, the Vice President of the Republic of India, who will do Keynote Address during the Official Opening ceremony on Wednesday 31st October 2018.
Discuss some of the high profile speakers that guests should look up to?
TSHEKO: We have many well-known speakers at this year’s conference. However, I wish to just mention one young Motswana lady who is doing very well within the financial world in the diaspora. Ms. Neo Mooki has over a decade of investments and financial markets experience and currently serves as the Investment Director at Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI), based in Scotland, United Kingdom, and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Standard Life Aberdeen plc. is one of the world’s largest investment companies, managing £557.1bn of assets, making it the largest active manager in the UK and one of the largest in Europe. Mooki has delivered some of the asset management industry’s ground-breaking asset solutions, including recently spearheading the launch of a short-dated product in the private equity space. This made national UK news as it was the first of its kind in the institutional space, attracting over GBP500 million of capital since launch in July 2018. Mooki also recently launched the Private Markets Impact Fund which is still in concept phase, and aims to leverage her company’s existing capabilities in private markets to provide an impact solution that can address the UN's sustainable development goals, capitalising on the growing interest in values-aligned investing. So far, this fund has raised £150m since Mooki originally came up with the idea in March 2018 and has had more interest from institutional investors who are awakening to the fact that it is possible to achieve strong returns through investing for social and environmental good in the developing world.
Business matchmaking is the core of GEB. Discuss.
TSHEKO: The Business Matchmaking Programme is an initiative run by Global Expo Botswana to manage and create targeted one-on-one meetings between Exhibitors and Visitors in order to avail an opportunity for them to discuss business prospects based on their outlined areas of interest. The initiative, as practiced globally in other trade fairs, is not new to Global Expo Botswana - having been part of the Expo since its commencement in 2006 as ‘buyer-seller meetings’.
What workshops will be taking place at this year’s GEB?
TSHEKO: I wish to highlight the following workshops amongst the many that will be taking place during this year’s GEB: Export to Sweden Business seminar, which will be facilitated by the Swedish Trade and Investments in Botswana; Korea-Botswana Business CSR Forum facilitated by the Korean Embassy to Botswana based in Pretoria, South Africa; German-Botswana business cooperation - Best Practices of Health & Safety in Mining. This will be run by the SA-German Chamber; and UN Procurement Seminar organized by the United Nations procurement unit. This is particularly important because this is a huge opportunity for Botswana entrepreneurs to tap into this gigantic market opportunity to supply a variety of goods and services. The highlight of this year’s exhibition is the huge Indian delegation of about 30 companies that will be accompanying the Indian Vice President, His Excellency Venkaiah Naidu.
Star entrepreneur at this year’s Global Expo?
TSHEKO: This year GEB will be playing host to another ultra-successful businessman called Anil Agarwal. Mr Agarwal is a self-made billionaire, with a personal net worth of $3.8 billion, and is the proud Founder and Chairman of Vedanta Resources. Very few people are aware that he, in actuality controls Vedanta indirectly through Volcan Investments, which is a holding company and has a 61.7% stake in the business. From a trader to an entrepreneur, from riding a scooter in the late 1970s to flying across continents in his lavish private jet, and from copper to steel, aluminium, iron ore, zinc and power generation, Anil has come across a long way. The story of his success is one-of-its-kind and is as interesting as any Bollywood movie may look. He is one of the very few living men, who have literally started from scrap and reached to his stature, all by himself.