The Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) has started a series of country-wide information sessions aimed at showing small businesses how they can tap into its funding pool.
“This information series is the first of its kind,” says Alina Masenya, CEDA’s Head of Marketing and Communications. Masenya was speaking in Lobatse where the first of the sessions, involving over 40 business people from Lobatse, took place at the Civic Centre.
Masenya said CEDA was working with Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA), the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry on this initiative.
Starting with Lobatse, moving on to Jwaneng, Kang and then to Hukuntsi as the first places, CEDA’s information sessions are an outreach effort to bring current and potential CEDA beneficiaries to appreciate its role in equipping Batswana entrepreneurs with skills and capital.
She said CEDA is also targeting marginalized areas in a series of sessions meant to, among other things, share with Batswana what funding opportunities exist within the citizen economic empowerment schemes, the orientation they need to go through, and what markets to access.
During the events, CEDA also calls upon some small business people it has funded to share testimonials.
During the session in Lobatse, BEDIA’s Kungo Lentswe emphasised the need for local entrepreneurs to look for markets beyond Botswana. She said BEDIA has the potential to offer Lobatse entrepreneurs factory shells owned by the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).
But since many small businesses struggle in their attempt to crack the export market, she encouraged them to work in clusters rather than as individuals when they had a viable service or product with export market potential. That way they stood a better chance of meeting export market demand, she said.
Further, Lentswe said in its vision for “sector economic zones”, BEDIA would like to see Lobatse transformed into a thriving centre of beef and beef products, including tannery.
During the same event, LEA’s Tsholofelo Mabophiwa gave a presentation on how small business people can develop a winning business plan. She emphasized this as a crucial step before an entrepreneur approaches CEDA for funding, saying a successful business plan answers the questions, “Can I make it? Can I sell it? Can I make money from it?”
Banusi Mbaakanyi from Ministry of Trade and Industry also gave a presentation. She spoke at length about the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), its objectives at country and enterprise level.
Looking at performance of various economic sectors over time, she noted that the sectoral share of agriculture in the country’s GDP had dropped from 48 percent at independence in 1966 to 1.9 percent in 2009.
Mbaakanyi said the creation of the National Economic Diversification Council marked a paradigm shift in the current thinking on EDD.