The Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Confederation of Commerce and Manpower (BOCCIM), Maria Machailo-Ellis, says networking is essential for business progression, allowing businesses to appreciate each other’s limitations in resources, finance and skills. She said businesses can form collaborative partnerships for group purchases and supplies.
Machailo-Ellis said having a fair dedicated to Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) is highly beneficial and added that BOCCIM’s largest membership base consists of SMME’s, whose key role is to advocate and provide services, specifically to enhance them, such as power networking sessions, training and development programs.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, she recalled that two years ago, BOCCIM conducted a workshop to identify needs and challenges of SMME’s. She highlighted that lack of finance, skill capacity and resources were areas that hindered their successes.
She also stated that BOCCIM grasped the issues and integrated them in the various sector advocacy agenda’s.
“Our lobbying efforts continue to be work in progress, as each year business dynamics and requirements change,” said Machailo-Ellis. “BOCCIM shares Memorandum of Understanding with LEA and BOCCIM urges its members to participate in any networking and visibility opportunity, exhibitions are an excellent way to expose your brand.”
She further said it is important to look at the bigger picture when it comes to market access, both locally and on a global scale, adding that BOCCIM’s private sector development strategy aims to address issues and challenges experienced by SMME’s.
Machailo-Ellis said it will also enable the business environment to nurture private sector development and growth by proposing solutions to alleviate major constraints.
She said that BOCCIM developed the strategy to help private sector investors acquire the capacity and skills that would promote competitiveness in the global market and also deter barriers that make it difficult for the private sector, especially SMME’s, to exploit market opportunities. She stated that the strategy also proposes reducing the cost of doing business and facilitating access to markets, through strategic business partnerships and alliances with foreign investors.
“If Botswana is encouraging FDI, joint ventures and international partnership then by all means this is a starting point for many businesses to explore opportunities. It is also important for companies to benchmark and keep up with regional and international trends by learning from foreign exhibitors,” she explained.
said Machailo-Ellis observed that SMME’s have the potential to participate in the diversification of Botswana’s economy and, collectively, can make a significant impact and added that Agro processing and tourism are two key areas that can contribute to economic diversification where small players in business have a chance to participate and excel in.
She further said BOCCIM is exploring a strategy through its agriculture sector that could encourage local supply and support local producers that will encourage them to work collectively and up the standards in supply consistency and quality outputs. She said the benefits will eventually be passed onto the consumer through price benefits.
“Many SMME’s are still experiencing the negative effect of the economic crisis. SMME’s are caught in an unfortunate cycle of poor credit availability, which can affect cash flow, changing business conditions, and low business confidence. There has been less procurement from larger companies through subcontracting to smaller companies due to the low consumer demand,” she said but in frustration.