Local sports and fashion wear retailer JB on Friday unveiled its P25 million warehouse and distribution centre located in Commerce Park, Gaborone. The retailer has been hailed for its enormous success over the past 25 years, having currently generated employment for 400 people.
Officiating at the grand opening of the facility, President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi noted that Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in generating employment, especially for the unskilled labour force.
JB offers a comprehensive portfolio of over 30 retail brands that include sportswear, clothing and footwear as well as over 20 international brands in the sports and gym equipment division. It has grown to 40 branches in Botswana and six in Namibia.
“It plans to open more stores across the Southern Africa region over the next three years in its quest to be counted among the leaders in the sports, fashion and lifestyle sectors of the retail industry,” he said.
President Masisi urged the retailer to set up a textile manufacturing plant that would employ a lot of Batswana.
“The growth of JB, from a Small and Medium Enterprise to a retail giant, is a typical example of how a small enterprise can flourish and be a contributor to the economy of the country,” he stated, saying over the years SMEs have proven to offer employment opportunities for the people of Botswana.
Dr. Masisi also cited that global statistics have proven that the SME sector needs to be vibrant for the economy to thrive. He said these enterprises play a key role in generating employment to both
the unskilled labour force as well as professionals. “According to the 2016 Report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), statistics indicate that SMEs in the OECD area account for about 70% of jobs,” he cited.
He said in emerging economies SMEs contribute up to 45% of total employment and 33% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “For my Government, the development of SMEs is pivotal to achieve our aspirations of a high income country by 2036,” he said.
The President said the SMEs sector is critical to Botswana’s aims of citizen economic empowerment and strengthening the prospect of achieving an inclusive economic growth and poverty alleviation. He said Government has implemented several initiatives geared at promoting the ease of doing business such as the launching of an Online Business Registration System (OBRS) in June 2019 with a view to making it easy to register and own a business. He said Parliament is currently debating both the revised Trade and the Industrial Development Bills which are aimed at easing starting up a business.
He said Government has embarked on a transformation agenda that aims to drive Botswana’s economic diversification and make it globally competitive. He said Government has decided to create a Ministry responsible for SMEs and Enterprise Development. “We expect a significant growth in the SMEs sector hence the need to have a fully-fledged Enterprise Development Centre across the country that will comprehensively support SMEs. We will continue to strengthen institutions that are specifically set up to support SMEs like the Local Enterprise Authority, the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency, the Companies and Intellectual