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BY PORTIA NKANI
Barclays bank Botswana on Thursday opened its Enterprise Development (ESD) Centre as part of its continued effort to support and grow Small Medium Enterprises in the country.
The centre forms part of the Botswana Stock Exchange Limited quoted bank’s’ enterprise development programme.
The opening of the centre follows a successful launch of the Enterprise Development programme in November 2017, which sought to give SMEs access to markets, as well as business and financial support. The centre is designed to give SME clients working space, with access to a boardroom, dedicated work stations, Wi-Fi and printing facilities.
To this day, nine Barclay’s clients from various industries have benefitted from the ESD programme and in turn provided much needed employment for over 150 Batswana.
On the financial outlay, the bank says over P80million was disbursed through the ESD programme in 2018 and P50million from the beginning of this year to end of June.
Speaking at the opening of the centre, Barclays Acting Business Banking Director, Keletso Setimela, said, “SMEs are the heartbeat of any economy and we are always looking for sustainable solutions to help contribute towards their growth. We are aware of the challenges SMEs face on a daily basis. As a bank we are in a unique position to use our own assets to offer value chain financing solutions as well as provide an enabling environment to our SMEs.”
Minister of Investment Trade and Industry, Bogolo kenewendo who officially opened the centre, indicated that SME is the busiest apex in her ministry. “We want a pipeline of ensuring that the SMEs have market access and be able to export. We have further gone to challenge our retailers to have local products in their shelves. We want to have meaningful participation of Batswana in this supply chain.”
Already the water and bread industries are already protected and the hope is that the Pula value will be realized. 38 companies in the water space have so far created 400-500 employment. Kenewendo said as a Ministry they strongly believe on partnerships that help drive SMEs development.
The SME sector has proven to be an important driver of economic growth and employment creation across the world, Botswana is no exception. Research has shown that in Botswana’s case, nearly 90 percent of all registered businesses are SMEs and employ 300 000 people both formally and informally.
As Barclays Botswana is about to start rebranding during this month of August and complete by February 2020, Barclays Managing Director, Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane said “the rebranding will be awarded to 90 percent of our SMEs.”
Meanwhile, the centre opens on Mondays-Fridays between 8am-5pm, along the old Lobatse road above Barclays Industrial branch. To gain access to facilities, SMEs are required to book the space atleast 24 hours in advance.