The inaugural Ashish J Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship Index has ranked Botswana highly, placing it in the top three countries in Africa. The Index assessed 85 countries in the world and it is the first in an annual series where it will monitor the movement of these countries.
The Ashish J. Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship Index is based on 5 broad pillars that span education, entrepreneurial environment, infrastructure, finance and policy. Each pillar contains between three and seven indices. These indices were sourced from a variety of sources such as United Nations and World Trade Organisation statistics. The 5 pillars aim to give a balance of physical barriers to entrepreneurship such as poor infrastructure, government policies preventing entrepreneurship and also assessing the entrepreneurial environment.
The objective of the Index is to highlight which countries are performing well and which countries could improve. “We will measure performance over time, looking out for innovative solutions that are setting new benchmarks and hold the potential to be adopted elsewhere. Through the findings of the Index, we provide clear policy recommendations to the public and private sectors that we hope will, in turn, further the success of a great number of promising entrepreneurs around the world,” said Mr. Ashish J Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation, in the report’s foreword.
Mr. Thakkar praised Singapore, the top-scoring country in the Index, for its robust pro-entrepreneurial policies, high level of education and strong entrepreneurial culture. He says Singapore has done particularly well in developing itself as a regional hub for venture capital investment, stating that one reason it scores so highly is due to schemes such as the government backed Early Stage Venture Investment Fund which, each year, awards five venture capitalists with matching government funding that enables them to invest widely and confidently.
Botswana is placed in the 42nd position in the overall world rankings, and third position in Africa, falling behind Namibia and Rwanda respectively. The assessed five pillars are assigned 100 points each. The country managed a cumulative score of 232 points out of the total 500 points, scoring 58 for policy, 32 for infrastructure, and 48 for both education, entrepreneurial and finance. Botswana managed to outperform Namibia in terms of policy but fell shortly in the other pillars. Rwanda outdid Botswana when it came to policy, entrepreneurship and Finance. Botswana also got a special mention in the report for its exploits.
“Certain African countries performed extremely highly on mobile phone penetration highlighting how their digital infrastructure is changing. Botswana, for example, scored higher than the UK, the USA, and Singapore,” the report said. According to the report the top countries for entrepreneurship in Africa are Namibia, Rwanda, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia. Of the top three African countries in the index, Namibia and Botswana are stronger on the education pillar because of comparatively higher levels of literacy and quality in education.
Both countries have made education central to their development. According to the World Bank, Namibia set aside 26% of its national budget for education in 2010and Botswana 20% in 2009. Rwanda scores highly on the policy and finance pillars driven by the government initiatives to ease of doing business. Credit is easily available and business transparency is high. However Zambia scored the highest in the finance pillar primarily because of the availability of credit and low tax rate. This places Zambia in the top 10 of all countries globally on the Finance Pillar, just behind the USA.
In the report’s special section focusing on Africa, it was highlighted that Africa is not meeting its entrepreneurial potential due significant challenges in terms of political stability, underdeveloped infrastructure, poor education and under-diversified economies. Within this context, Africa as a continent comes much lower down the Ashish J. Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship Index.
“While African countries tend to have lower scores across all five pillars on the index, infrastructure and education are the pillars in which Africa is particularly weak. Comparatively lower scores for infrastructure are primarily driven by a lack of electrical access and the technology that comes with reliable access to energy, such as telecommunications and internet access,” the report stated.
The report states that African countries show huge potential not only for entrepreneurship in general, but especially among women. The majority of women in sub-Saharan African countries are employed, far higher than the OECD average. However, women are often employed in informal and low-skilled labour, rather than in managerial or ownership positions. The OECD estimates that approximately 70% of agricultural labour are women and that women produce about 90% of all food.
Women are also less likely to be educated and literate. Further complicating matters is the increasing number of unemployed youth. “Unlike much of the world, Africa’s youth population is growing. There are already around 200 million people aged 15 to 24. This brings significant challenges to developing economies and many countries have high proportions of unemployed young people (aged 15-24). In South Africa and Egypt, two of Africa’s largest economies, around half of young people are unemployed.”
In conclusion, the report noted that one of the main barriers to Africa’s economies and entrepreneurs is the lack of infrastructure, especially access to electricity. There is simply not enough power for the needs of its population and its businesses. Where supply exists, it is often sporadic and unreliable. “One solution lies with Africa’s most abundant natural resource – the sun.
The theoretical reserves of Africa’s solar energy are estimated at 60,000,000 TWh/year, 40% of the global total. Multiple agencies, such as the United Nations (UN) are already focussed on improving energy access, especially from solar power, driven by a green agenda, the reduced technological cost and the investment opportunity,” the report advised before adding that investment in solar could lead to a cycle of ever greater returns for investors, entrepreneurs and communities. It will create a need for companies to service the solar infrastructure while opening up opportunities for other business and services to benefit from the power generated.
Mara Foundation was established in 2009 as the social enterprise of Mara Group – a young and dynamic pan-African investment group with operations in banking, real estate, infrastructure, and technology. Mara Group was founded by Ashish J Thakkar who began his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 15 and, together with his family, has built up Mara Group into a company with investments and operations spanning 25 African countries and 3 continents. Mara Group has presence in Botswana through one of its subsidiary, ABC Holdings which operates the BancABC banking operations.
The state of the art jewellery manufacturing plant that has been set up by international diamond and cutting company, KGK Diamonds Botswana will create over 100 jobs, of which 89 percent will be localized.
Local diamond and metal exploration company Tsodilo Resources Limited has negotiated a non-brokered private placement of 2,200, 914 units of the company at a price per unit of 0.20 US Dollars, which will provide gross proceeds to the company in the amount of C$440, 188. 20.
According to a statement from the group, proceeds from the private placement will be used for the betterment of the Xaudum iron formation project in Botswana and general corporate purposes.
The statement says every unit of the company will consist of a common share in the capital of the company and one Common Share purchase warrant of the company.
Each warrant will enable a holder to make a single purchase for the period of 24 months at an amount of $0.20. As per regularity requirements, the group indicates that the common shares and warrants will be subject to a four month plus a day hold period from date of closure.
Tsodilo is exempt from the formal valuation and minority shareholder approval requirements. This is for the reason that the fair market value of the private placement, insofar as it involves the director, is not more than 25% of the company’s market capitalization.
Tsodilo Resources Limited is an international diamond and metals exploration company engaged in the search for economic diamond and metal deposits at its Bosoto Limited and Gcwihaba Resources projects in Botswana. The company has a 100% stake in Bosoto which holds the BK16 kimberlite project in the Orapa Kimberlite Field (OKF) in Botswana.
African heads of state and global CEOs at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting backed the launch of the first of its kind report on how public-private partnerships can support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
AfCFTA: A New Era for Global Business and Investment in Africa outlines high-potential sectors, initiatives to support business and investment, operational tools to facilitate the AfCFTA, and illustrative examples from successful businesses in Africa to guide businesses in entering and expanding in this area.
The report aims to provide a pathway for global businesses and investors to understand the biggest trends, opportunities and strategies to successfully invest and achieve high returns in Africa, developing local, sub-regional and continental value chains and accelerating industrialization, all of which go hand in hand with the success of the AfCFTA.
The AfCFTA is the largest free trade area in the world, by area and number of participating countries. Once fully implemented, it will be the fifth-largest economy in the world, with the potential to have a combined GDP of more than $3.4 trillion. Conceived in 2018, it now has 54 national economies in Africa, could attract billions in foreign investment, and boost overseas exports by a third, double intra-continental trade, raise incomes by 8% and lift 50 million people out of poverty.
To ease the pain of transition to its new single market, Africa has learned from trade liberalization in North America and Europe. “Our wide range of partners and experience can help anticipate and mitigate potential disruptions in business and production dynamics,” said Børge Brende, President, and World Economic Forum. “The Forum’s initiatives will help to ease physical, capital and digital flows in Africa through stakeholder collaboration, private-public collaboration and information-sharing.”
Given the continent’s historically low foreign direct investment relative to other regions, the report highlights the sense of excitement as the AfCFTA lowers or removes barriers to trade and competitiveness. “The promising gains from an integrated African market should be a signal to investors around the world that the continent is ripe for business creation, integration and expansion,” said Chido Munyati, Head of Regional Agenda, Africa, World Economic Forum.
The report focuses on four key sectors that have a combined worth of $130 billion and represent high-potential opportunities for companies looking to invest in Africa: automotive; agriculture and agroprocessing; pharmaceuticals; and transport and logistics.
“Macro trends in the four key sectors and across Africa’s growth potential reveal tremendous opportunities for business expansion as population, income and connectivity are on the rise,” said Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, AfCFTA Secretariat.
“These projections reveal an unprecedented opportunity for local and global businesses to invest in African countries and play a vital role in the development of crucial local and regional value chains on the continent,” said Landry Signé, Executive Director and Professor, Thunderbird School of Global Management and Co-Chair, World Economic Forum Regional Action Group for Africa.
The Forum is actively working towards implementing trade and investment tools through initiatives, such as Friends of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, to align with the negotiation process of the AfCFTA. It identifies areas where public-private collaboration can help reduce barriers and facilitate investment from international firms.
About the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 convenes the world’s foremost leaders under the theme, Cooperation in a Fragmented World. It calls on world leaders to address immediate economic, energy and food crises while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable, resilient world. For further information,