South African High Commissioner to Botswana Mdu Lembede on Wednesday officially launched the South African Business Forum Botswana which he described as an important network of entrepreneurs from Botswana and South Africa.
At the launch, Lembede said he met with the South African business community operating in Botswana and urged them to work coherently with the locals to create an environment where businesses can thrive.
“Appreciating the long standing ties between our countries, SA Business Forum Botswana will serve to motivate business owners and civil society in the country to effectively work harmoniously within the context of the local economic growth, development and transformation goals. It strives to create an environment where businesses of all sizes and in all sectors can thrive, expand and be competitive both nationally and internationally to the benefit of Batswana,” said Lembede.
He encouraged South Africans who own businesses in Botswana to share their knowledge and experiences in order to help Batswana grow their enterprises.
For her part, Chairperson of SA Business Forum Botswana Lulu Rasebotsa said the future of Botswana is dependent on the business community. She said the forum will effectively lay out a conducive environment for entrepreneurs to grow, adding that membership is open to all businesses regardless of size and origin.
For his part Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Sadique Kebonang said as his ministry, as a facilitator, will take advantage of the forum to address burning issues. He said although South Africa is one of Botswana’s biggest trading partners, most of the trading space that was initially reserved for citizen businesses has over time been occupied by South Africans.
“My observation is that South African businesses especially those that have been around for years are mostly not forthcoming in supporting local business owners and I urge the forum to see addressing this issue as priority. Our intention is not to revoke any trading licences but to see to it that the value chain is of benefit to locals,” said Kebonang.
Kebonang ended by encouraging Batswana to take advantage of the forum as it would give them a broader market to sell their goods and services.