In a bid to get financial and in some cases technical assistance from potential investors, Botswana start-up companies this past week got on stage to make their pitches at the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai.
A total of 11 Batswana innovators had an opportunity to pitch their ideas according to the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC).
BITC Corporate Communications Director – Kutlo Moagi told Sunday Standard that it was not a competitive pitch but a showcase of innovations at different stages of maturity. There were 5 females and 6 male participants. Predominantly the participants were youth including students from local universities – BIUST and Limkokwing.
Obakeng Segwagwe, Programs Manager at BDIH said that most young people from Universities that were presenting were bringing an idea or a rough prototype and not necessarily coming with a company that is ready for the market.
He said it was an opportunity for them to learn and know that entrepreneurship can be a form of employment that one can create for themselves.
Segwagwe added that the other target was for women, elderly women who were brought in to pitch their products.
He noted that some of the information they got from the venture capitalists is that as a country, Botswana is going in the right direction because it provides a good platform for testing of innovation and technology due to its small population, innovations that can then be scaled up to larger markets.
He said the inspiration is that Botswana can be able to compete from anywhere because this is one if the biggest stages one could ever think of.
“There are 196 countries participating at the Expo. There were well known and international venture capitalists present at the innovation pitch,” he stated.
In terms of strategic partnerships, Segwagwe said they have had meetings with several companies, one of them being a company that is in the energy or clean tech space. The company is in the production of electricity and provision of water which are two main areas that Botswana has a problem with.
He said the sooner Botswana gets close to them the better it will realize the returns because they can help with water and Energy problems as these are companies that have made a lot of impact in this market in Dubai.
He stated that one of their biggest lessons is that they should invest in bringing in the relevant equipment within their facilities.
BDIH supported, Qflo/Creative Insights which is an innovative online queue management solution. They have developed a QFlo App that enables end users to book a spot in a queue virtually through Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and SMS.
Leverage Point, an innovative software development company that thrives in the development of custom-made software solutions, they recently launched an ERP solution geared towards digital transformation of SMEs in Botswana and the SADC region.
As well as Pyro Carbon Energy, the solution is a containerised plant that will convert poultry litter into high value products, namely; biochar, bio-oil and biogas, while simultaneously providing cost effective, environmentally friendly and safe waste disposal. The products can be readily used as fertiliser equivalent to Nitrogen Phosphorus
Potassium (NPK) and biofuel for burners and electricity generators
Meanwhile BITC says it has established a connection in the Silicon Valley, UK, Israel and Hong Kong and they intend to further those connections beyond EXPO 2020 Dubai. The Expo 2020 Dubai that started in October is slated to end in March 2022. The Expo continues with Arts and Craft in December 2021, Tourism Experience in January 2022, Foods of Botswana in February 2022 and culminating into March 2022 where Botswana will host Botswana Day on 13th March 2022.