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Startup ecosystems can boost SMMEs

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 31 October 2018   |   By Keitebe Kgosikebatho
Boi Kgathi Rasmussen Boi Kgathi Rasmussen

The founder of My Foodness;  food ordering and delivery app  Boi Kgathi Rasmussen has called on all stakeholders to build and support  a functioning and efficient startup ecosystem to ensure local startup businesses succeed.

A startup ecosystem is formed by people, startups in their various stages and various types of organizations in a location (physical or virtual), interacting as a system to create and scale new startup companies. “There is a general lack of understanding of the needs of startups and how to actually support them. The local start up ecosystem is almost non-existent,” she said.

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Rasmussen was speaking during the annual Innovation Botswana 2018, hosted by Botswana Innovation Hub on Thursday in Gaborone. According to Rasmussen, there is a common consensus/belief among governments, research institutions, funding organisations and other stakeholders that start- ups in innovation are the key factor for future growth and job creation.

She pointed out that both governments and the private sector could therefore  initiate  certain moves to intervene such as  introducing  in house incubators  and accelerators  and inviting  startups  to solve specific problems in their fields after which  the results could be that such startups  participating in such an arrangement  in turn get funding so as to be able to nationalize their products. “I also think that the private sector could indeed invest in start-ups to fast track their own innovation growth,” she said.

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Rasmussen further pointed out there are a lot of challenges facing startups among them being e-government services for startups and for businesses in general. “In an ideal situation any interaction with government that requires forms such as business registration and licensing etc., should be done electronically to save time” she said. However pointing out that right now that is not the case, and advising startups to nevertheless preserve and forge forward with plans to launch their innovative ideas. “All industry sectors in Botswana are ripe and ready for disruptions, the time is now to build new products and services,” said the innovator.

According to Rasmussen, there is currently about $2 billion injected into African startups yearly and ideally a big portion of the amount should be flowing into Botswana.

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“Let’s face it; we are the most stable country in Africa and the safest place for investments. I would even say Botswana should be a soft landing spot for anyone looking to invest in Africa,” she said.

She further highlighted that startups in the rest of the world have tremendous success and support and hence it is important to build a robust start ecosystem.

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“The time is now, together let us not only ignite the spirit of innovation but let us also fully embrace it, enable it and sustain it,” she said.

In addition   to My Foodness app, Rasmussen is CEO  & Founder of Y-BECA Youth Entrepreneurship Foundation, Author of Brighter Futures for Young Entrepreneurs, Co-Founder of The SproutHub Marketing & Innovation Consulting Company, Co-Founder of Startup Nation Botswana and Startup Coach at the Amsterdam Business School, University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

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Innovation Botswana 2018 is part of a series of annual events that celebrate innovation in Botswana. The occasion is a flagship event of Botswana Innovation Hub that showcases national innovations and presents a platform for dialogue on critical elements that need to be addressed to ensure progress in the agenda for innovators and technology entrepreneurs.

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The day brought together hundreds of stakeholders from civil society, business, academia, public sector and industry to celebrate innovation through exhibitions, networking and capacity building workshops.



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