Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Sadique Kebonang on Friday said he was unaware of any small businesses that have collapsed as a result of being crowded out of the market by retail giant Choppies.
He was responding to a question moved by Member of Parliament (MP) for Francistown East, Buti Billy who asked government to consider coming up with policies that could protect small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) against big companies that monopolize the market. Other MP’s supported Billy’s question, calling for the informal sector to be protected as they were crowded out of the market by retail giants like Choppies, which competes directly with small business owners as it sells groceries and consumables like fat cakes and fast foods.
However, Kebonang, who is also a Director in Choppies, said he was not aware that Choppies was in conflict with small business owners.
“I do not know of any small business that has collapse because of Choppies operations and services,” he said.
He however said he was fully aware of the various challenges faced by SMMEs including inability to compete with bigger companies.
“My Ministry recognizes the important role played by SMMEs as a source of livelihood for the different segments of society, especially the rural poor. I am aware of various challenges facing the SMMEs mainly related to lack of competitiveness and therefore inability to compete with big companies,” he said.
He revealed that in an effort to address the concerns, government approved the SMMEs Policy in 1998, aimed at establishing an integrated approach to supporting SMMEs and creating an enabling environment for them to grow.
“My Ministry took the decision to adopt a holistic approach to the development of SMMEs. We have developed a comprehensive policy that will support their growth. In this regard, my Ministry has concluded the development of the National Entrepreneurship Policy for Botswana which is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly before the end of this year,” said Kebonang.
The entrepreneurship policy’s main objective is to inculcate an entrepreneurship culture into SMMEs so they learn and adopt entrepreneurship traits and skills. Further the policy aims to address the challenges of entrepreneurship faced by SMMEs. Kebonang further said the Competition Policy and Competition Act were enacted to create a free and fair trading environment that allows all businesses to thrive and compete on the basis of price, quality and service delivery irrespective of their size.
“The Competition Act addresses amongst others the various forms of abuse and monopoly or dominance such as pricing, price collusion by big players, vertical and horizontal agreements. Therefore any suspicious of unfair competition are reported to the Competition Commission for assessment and possible litigation,” said Kebonang.