In a country backed to a corner by the crushing need to create employment, any effort directed towards that cause is a welcomed and commended. The need to fast track job creation was voluminously reiterated in the 2015/16 budget speech, and the mammoth task was heaped on the private sector with the expectation by government that it will tackle the challenge with vigor and dexterity.
What appeared to have been missing, however, was how this onerous task was going to be carried out. But the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) on Friday glistened a ray of hope on the matter at the launch of a groundbreaking program targeted at SMMEs. The program is intended to meet their deficiencies and enable them to grow to a point where they are able to create the longed for economic opportunities.
As the voice of private sector BOCCIM, pointed out that employment creation would not be easy as long as government does not act decisively to resolve issues that businesses have to contend with on the ground. On Friday, BOCCIM launched a pioneering program called Productive Raising through enhanced Working Conditions for Employees of Small Medium sized Sustainable Enterprises (PROWESS), a brainchild of BOCCIM and the International Labor Organization (ILO). The program was crafted after ILO conducted an in-depth survey of SMMEs in Gaborone in 2013 at the request of BOCCIM. By supporting a tool that will help empower and grow SMMEs, ILO will ensure that jobs are made available in the economy. PROWESS will be rolled out in eight other countries in the region following its establishment in Botswana.
The subjects/modules of the program were identified through a thorough situation analysis of the SMMEs that underwent interviews and as such are designed to be responsive to the issues at hand. The modules include among others productivity and performance, marketing and quality. Each module takes two days. BOCCIM is yet to determine the prices of the modules, but the expectation is that prices will be finalized next week. While the SMME survey was largely conducted in Gaborone, Machailo-Ellis stressed that the program is open to businesses regardless of their geographic location.
“This program is not restrictive to any particular sector and type of business as the modules are relevant to all business needs. I encourage BOCCIM members to enroll for training that is specific to their needs. We can also conduct in-house training for some organizations,” said Machailo-Ellis.
A PROWESS trainers course was conducted in November last year and the trainers, who are members of BOCCIM, were given certificates of accreditation at the launch. Machailo-Ellis explained that the program was deliberately structured to use local trainers to avoid competition between PROWESS and the training that BOCCIM delivers independently. The trainers recently conducted training for 38 participants from various organizations, which focused on managing occupational safety and health. A health and safety officer at Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) testified to the interactive and introspective nature of the program.