Barclays Botswana has once again introduced a more convenient package and small medium enterprises tailored initiative in the area of procurement and logistics businesses.
The Enterprise and Supply Chain Development Programme (ESD) will provide businesses development facilities and access to financial assistance so that SMEs can fulfill their purchase orders and watch their businesses prosper. When giving a key note address at the launch in Gaborone this past Wednesday Barclays Managing Director, Reinette van der Merwe said her company recognized the integral role played by small medium enterprises in the growth of Botswana economy and diversification of the latter.
"When we grow our business, those around us should grow with us and prosper. This is what will drive economic growth in our country. Based on our research of SMEs early development, the ESD Programme will aim to increase SME access to financial coaching and mentorship,” she said.
Explaining the package, Barclays Head of Enterprise and Supply Chain Development Programme, Kushata Chilisa said SMEs were the heartbeat of Botswana’s economy but were currently challenged when it comes to them accessing financing hence the programme. She explained that small medium enterprises engaged in supplies and procurement both for government and private sector purchases will partner with Barclays in form of an MOA and be provided with financing to resource their procurement and supply tenders.
“We will be giving loans to qualifying SMEs with evident financial discipline and book keeping record without asking for security,” she said. “The project is aimed at addressing challenges faced by small enterprises in Botswana.” Botswana Chamber of Mines which is a commercial lobby group of mining companies in Botswana also presented on their similar program which compliments the Barclays package. Joe Ramotshabi said through their program they have been able to partner with over 30 businesses and employ over 400 talented Batswana.
“Our programme is made up of procurement managers from all mines operating in Botswana.” Ramotshabi said as a company in the mining sector which constitutes numerous procurement, purchases and supply of equipments, materials and other instruments used in daily operations and support services they came up with the program to boost government efforts of employment creation.
“We looked at what we could use to complement the government to create employment and diversify the economy and we came up with our own project too. We identify capable citizen owned companies that need to be mentored to grow and offer services and supply products to the mining sector and put them under our programme,” he said.
Barclays has over the years developed a number of initiatives aimed at empowering SMEs, the products supplement a number of national strategies put together by government and the private sector. Small Micro & Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) have been identified as the missing puzzle in Botswana’s economic makeup. This sector comprises small scale business, community cooperatives, hawkers, roadside traders as well as medium scales businesses. Over 30% of Botswana’s workface is employed by small medium enterprises. This sector currently contributes over 20% to Botswana‘s economy.
In its quest to empower Batswana and realize economic diversification away from the diamond sector, as well as employment creation and sustainable growth, the Government of Botswana has setup various business facilitation arms and also introduced a number of programs and initiatives.
Youth Development Fund under the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Cultural Development intends to finance young people to start up medium enterprises in almost every sector from agriculture , manufacturing and ICT. The Department of Gender Affairs under the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs offers the Women’s Grant to groups of women to a tune of P350 000 for the women to turn community cooperatives and indigenous small medium business into profit making entities.
Local Enterprise Authority ( LEA) under the Ministry of Investment Trade & Industry offers development and support services to the local industry needs of SMMEs, The Authority's key sectors are manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, and any services that support the three business sectors.
In particular, LEA targets women, youth, and the unemployed. In delivering their mandate and mainly supporting the Small Micro & Medium Enterprises LEA conduct entrepreneurship awareness workshops annually across the country to cultivate the spirit of entrepreneurship in youth and the unemployed.
The Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency (CEDA) operates as an investment arm and financer to viable projects and feasible business ideas. Although it initially gave funds of up to tens of millions, CEDA recently introduced an SMME tailor made initiative-Mabogo Dinku.
Through the program CEDA provides subsidized loans for various micro-entrepreneurs to enable citizen participation in enterprise development. Mabogo-Dinku loan offers micro-enterprises an opportunity and enables citizen participation in enterprise development. The initiative provides micro-enterprises with funds for their business needs ranging from working capital to small asset finance. Mabogo-Dinku offers short term loans from P500.00 to a maximum of P150, 000.00 per person, payable in 3-12 months to citizens who are micro-entrepreneurs to assist in the growth of their business.
Namibia’s deliberate actions on SME development
Namibia, whose economical setup is similar to that of Botswana, seems to be progressing as far developing SMEs is concerned. The Namibia Ministry of Trade, Industry & SME Development scooped position 1 in the Country Pavilion category at the last week Global Expo held in Gaborone.
In an interview with Brian Patako, senior official representing the Ministry WeekendPost established that the Namibian Government took deliberate steps to enact the Small Medium enterprises development as a key national agenda hence the renaming and realignment of the trade ministry to the nomenclature “Ministry of Trade, industry & SME Development” in 2014.
According to Patako SMEs currently contribute only just above 12 % to the Namibian economy, a figure that improved tremendously since 2014 prioritization on empowerment of the SME sector. “As much as we pursue foreign direct investment (FDI) realized we needed to put forward the development of our ordinary people businesses, because we have like all other African countries experienced the wrath of fly by night investors and pseudo business people who come into our country and exploit our generosity, pocket proceed and exit,” he said.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”