In an effort to facilitate and foster the sustainable development and growth of Botswana’s small business sector, Investec Asset Management of both Botswana and South Africa, in a collaborative effort with the University of Botswana Foundation and others in the private sector, this week launched The Business Place (TBP).
Speaking on behalf of the TBP Board of Directors, TBP Chairman, Satar Dada, explained that TBP is going to provide a range of relevant services to aspiring and existing small businesses and entrepreneurs, with a friendly, accessible referral, networking and information centre at its core.
Dada pointed out that the TBP model had stood the test of time in different parts of the world, including South Africa. He said that their primary goal is to compliment other entrepreneurial skills development initiatives.
“We also plan to maximize synergies with existing and future initiatives such as Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), CEDA and Junior Achievement Botswana,” he said.
In line with Vision 2016, Dada emphasized that the centre provides comprehensive and integrated service to support those people seeking to start or grow a business. He said it also facilitates the development of a vibrant and dynamic small business sector which will create job opportunities.
“TBP is youth friendly, people friendly and business friendly which intends to eliminate or reduce failure rate of small businesses and enhance their sustainable growth and development,” stated Dada.
Dada pointed out that they have approximately 650 clients in their database, and 470 clients have already been trained. He said that approximately 30 tenders had been won and eight projects funded.
“We have improved business implementation processes as well as two ‘Business opportunity Day’ with Agric and Construction,” he said.
Officiating at the launch at the Center at Plot 5 Mmaraka House, on Station Road, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Neo Moroka, stated that by establishing this center, the UB Foundation and private sector had clearly demonstrated their receptiveness and responsiveness to the principle of mutual social responsibility.
The Minister said TBP is a good example of the strategic partnership between the government and all other stakeholders that is needed in the economy. The uncompromising challenges confronting our country, he said, require all of us, as government, citizens and residents to value collaborative partnerships and work together as a well-oiled machine in tackling them. In this regard, the Minister promised that his ministry would, through its Small and Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) policy and programme implementation agency, LEA, collaborate with TBP.
Referring to its vision and mission statement, Moroka said the TBP operates a one-stop-service information centre “designed to provide relevant adversary and support services to existing small businesses and people who want to venture into business.” TBP, he said, intends to expand its database continuously to include information on entrepreneurship and enterprise development. This will facilitate its strategic planning process and decision-making on the development of small business in Botswana.
Moroka said that taking full responsibility for pursuing a business idea and plan to fruition at every step of the way is a major challenge that requires every client to demonstrate unwavering resilience and willingness to tackle it head on.
In conclusion, he urged TBP to forge collaborative links with other agencies such as the Small Business Council (SBC), the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS), the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA), the Rural Industrial Innovation Centre (RIIC), the National Food Technology Research Centre and CEDA because “these are institutions that play an important role in the promotion of business development.”