Saturday, May 28, 2022

MITI looks to SMEs to cut on country’s import bill

Government has begun a national roadshow to capacitate Small Medium and Micro Enterprises and encourage uptake of locally produced goods and services.

Spearheaded by the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, the PushaBw Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) expo is a national roadshow. The primary objective is to reduce the import bill which is currently over P85 billion, through uptake of locally produced goods and services.

Explaining the purpose of the National Roadshow, Minister of Investment Mmusi Kgafela said “availability of local products in the retail market brings local products closer to all consumers and allows for competitiveness of our products in the local and external market.”

“This roadshow has been brought about by the fact that most of the retailers are not aware of what is readily available. On the other hand, some local producers are not aware of the requirements and others struggle to meet those requirements for listing by the retailers. These requirements include amongst other meeting certain quality standards, consistent and continuous supply as well as competitive pricing,” Kgafela said.

As a response measure to Covid pandemic, in 2020 Government put in place the Economic Recovery Transformation Plan (ERTP) and one of the key deliverables for the plan was SME development. Government set aside P950 million towards SME development as Minister Kgafela encouraged participants of the PushaBW roadshow to engage Government and all other stakeholders for capacity development.

The roadshow is a partnership between Botswana Investment Trade Center, Citizen Enterprenuerial Development Agency, Local Enterprise Authority and local retail outlets.

Trans Cash and Carry Head of Marketing Makgabane Tsametsi shared that on average they have over 17 SMMEs supplying them with locally produced products. However, the challenges with their database were that some of the listed local producers were registered but had inactive accounts.

She said “some of the registered local producers do not consistently supply our shelves with stock and some revealed that it is due to shortage of money to produce more due to delayed payments from government departments, suppliers. Other reasons include shortage of raw materials as they are seasonal and therefore can’t produce continuously or replace outgoing stock in shelves.”

Volks Chem a local manufacturer of Cleaning and Industrial chemicals expressed delight to the roadshow as they believe it will expose their products to a bigger market of wholesalers and retailers as individual consumers buy while tuckshops and general dealers buy from these places for re sale.

Volks chemicals Operations Manager Samuel Ramakoba said “exposure to retailers, wholesalers can help us get our products to the people which in turn can decrease our capacity and production volumes. Survival is about volumes if we do good volumes we will be able to survive and provide employment to Batswana.”

Ramakoba further shared their experience on placing their products on the market, he said “it has not been easy but what we have realized is that as long as the product is of good quality there are people who can accept our products.”

Ramakoba believes Government can help local SMMEs by placing higher taxes on imported products, as lot of imported products are cheaper but of low quality. They beat local products on price not quality. As the biggest buyer in the market Government should move away from the purchase system based on price and should now emphasise on quality.”

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