Last week Bank Gaborone launched its Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy (CEEP) partnership with Debswana in Thapama, Francistown where it pledged P200 million towards the initiative.
The objective of this joint initiative is to assist citizen suppliers with finances, mentor them so that they can contribute meaningfully to Botswana’s economic diversification drive and create alternative livelihoods to mining. The CEEP program was started by Debswana to capacitate local companies to participate in its diamond value chain.
The money invested by the bank is also expected to cushion the beneficiaries against the economic challenges posed by the Covid 19 pandemic.
Welcoming the participants at the event, Francistown Mayor Godisang Radisigo showered accolades on the two companies for coming up with such an initiative as it will save many local suppliers from economic hardships and help them with financial solutions.
“I am particularly proud to be part of this Citizen Economic Empowerment Programme because we have seen firsthand even in our city how hard SMME businesses have been hit by the Covid 19 pandemic and we know from previous experience the challenges faced by many businesses through their growth journey,” he said.
He emphasized that SMME’s and supplier businesses need the intervention of corporate private sector players such as Bank Gaborone and Debswana to be able to reach their full potential. He said this will also help these businesses to create more employment opportunities for Batswana.
Officially launching the partnership between the two companies, the Head of Wholesale Banking at Bank Gaborone Khalala Mokefane said it is important to bear in mind that most businesses have been affected by the current Covid 19 pandemic. He said as a result big and small businesses have been adversely impacted and many livelihoods were disrupted.
“It is a challenging time for all with a recovery period that is bound to be long and unpredictable,” he said.
He said it is under these prevailing circumstances that when Bank Gaborone received a partnership proposal from Debswana on the Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy could not look back, but believed that they were under every obligation to assist. Mokefane said it is also important to note that Debswana or any other large corporate organization can create markets for suppliers but without the necessary cash flow the suppliers will fail.
“Bank Gaborone understands this and knows its key role is to enable sustainable cash flow and management to these suppliers,” he added.
He said in support of this initiative, a Supplier Development Program (SDP) has been set up under the CEEP program, as a targeted measure that develops citizen suppliers and their ecosystem. He said this will also provide access to markets within Debswana and beyond. He explained that the Bank Gaborone SDP under Wholesale Banking is designed to address the issue of lack of access to finance by citizen suppliers in order to increase their meaningful participation in the Debswana supply chain and subsequent ecosystem. According to Mokeafane the P200 million investment by Bank Gaborone towards the program will be earmarked for financing deserving businesses that are part of the SDP.
“We commit to increasing the available funding in line with demand. This P200 million will be centralized and managed through the Wholesale Banking division of the bank, to enable the bank to be best capacitated to play a key role in the SDP. Apart from the financing role, the additional mandate of the bank within the program will be to monitor the utilization and success rate of the program and to pro-actively manage risk using SDP platform,” he explained.