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CEDA transformative agenda focus on high impact projects

CEDA CEO: Thabo Thamane

Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Thabo Thamane has said the agency has begun to put emphasises on funding high impact projects that speaks to developmental needs as opposed to individuals’ needs.

CEDA recently launched its revised funding guidelines, which saw the agency increasing its funding cap to P50 million. The new guidelines have received thumbs in various quarters, but concerns were raised over CEDA’s ability to handle potentially a high number of projects seeking funding.

In addition to increasing the funding cap, CEDA announced that projects that seeks funding up to P5 million no longer require security in order to be funded. “It is not the first time that we increased the funding cap. Remember in 2008, we increased from P4 million to P30 million, which was our biggest increase. We have done balance sheet optimisation and they will be normal appraisals to see which projects are given priority,” Thamane told WeekendPost on Thursday.

“We are giving high impact projects priority; projects that have potential to create high number of jobs and projects that help in reduction of imports. It is a matter of giving priority to developmental needs as opposed to individual need.

“A project may be viable but not help in creation of jobs. If you want funding to build multi-residential property and there is another proposal with potential to create high number of jobs, we will give it priority. We try to balance between national needs and individuals’ needs. Our emphasis will be on those projects that feed into our strategic focus.”

Thamane said it is not the number of funded projects that is important, but the impact that funded projects create. “I will rather fund less and create high number of jobs, than fund more and make less impact in creation of jobs,” he said. Sectors that are being prioritised by CEDA are Tourism, Agro-Processing, Manufacturing, Construction and Information Communication Technology (ICT).

Thamane, who has been in charge of CEDA since 2011 and led its transformation over the years, said the new funding approach is a result of a study commissioned by the agency and conducted by government think tank, Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA).

BIDPA, in its study identified gaps in CEDA’s funding and recommended among others; easing access to funding and increasing grace period for manufacturing projects. “Also we want to be pro-active, not just reacting. We will start identifying existing businesses with established markets and help them with funding to scale-up,” he said.

In 2019, as part of easing access to funding, CEDA in partnership with Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) introduced Project Facilitation Fund, which is a pre-project funding targeting high impact projects with strong focus on agro-processing, manufacturing and tourism.

Project Facilitation Fund is in form money accessed in order to finance certain pre-requisite requirements for certain projects such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), product testing and processing certification, diligence, valuation reports, soil and water test, borehole test, structural reports among others.

Though the initiative can accommodate other projects in exceptional cases, the focus is in high impact projects in agro-processing, manufacturing and tourism. “If you look at these sectors Batswana are spectators. We have the data that shows how many Batswana are into these sectors. We as CEDA deliberately said we will focus on these sectors,” Thamane previously told WeekendPost.

“We want to move to a situation whereby we direct people where to venture because we are the owners of the funds and we can dictate where the funds go. We want people to use the entire value chain of primary production of goods. There has to be one who grows, then one who processes and finally the one who sells to market,” he said. “One the biggest problems facing SMEs is that, one would want to do everything in the entire value chain. It affects efficiencies.”

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