South African Business Forum (SABF) together with the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development will start hosting business sessions in a bid to bridge the gap between members of the Forum and local SMEs.
The business sessions will be hosted under the theme, "Focus on SMME's for job creation". SABF was formed in 2015 with the purpose of of facilitating good relationships between the Botswana Government and South African businesses in Botswana.
The Forum chairperson, Lulu Rasebotsa, who is the Managing Director of Liberty Botswana explained the primary purpose for the formation of SABF as to provide a platform to interact, dialogue and exchange views amongst and between members, Government, other businesses and civic organizations in the country and regionally to advance members and mutual interests. "The business sessions present an opportunity for South African companies and especially SABF members to interact with SMME's to explore possible ways of collaboration as per the mandates and wishes of SABF members," said Rasebotsa on Thursday when launching the sessions.
Rasebotsa said the concept behind the business forum is ideally to create a platform to engage on different business topics with other local companies and share advice, experiences and ways of overcoming different business challenges. "We want to also use this platform to attract new membership for the forum. We will do this by making the discussions part of the expo exclusive to only members of the forum," she explained.
Rasebotsa noted that globally research shows that SME's are the major drivers of jobs and jobs creation and employ more people than any other sector in the world. The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Thapelo Olopeng who was launching the sessions said government is generally concerned about the lack and inadequate market access for goods and services produced by young people.
Sectors to be targeted include Retail, Finance, Clothing, ICT, Distribution, Travel, Insurance and Construction. "The sessions will afford SABF companies to especially meet potential suppliers from different youth run business and walk them through the requirements of supplying big corporations," said the minister. Olopeng said the business sessions through the SA High Commission will create meeting opportunities for youth owned businesses in Botswana South Africa for mutual benefits of the two countries. "Through these platforms Batswana youth and those in the SMMEs will gain access to markets and knowledge on how to supply and deal with South African companies that currently dominate the trade space in Botswana," he said.
The minister noted that business sessions are in sync with a partnership the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry who recently between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and signed a programme document in January, 2018. The programme document seeks to address economic diversification and unemployment challenges facing Botswana by creating demand-based, market-driven opportunities for SMEs to increase their competitiveness.