Botswana Exporters and Manufacturing Association (BEMA), says its aim is to see small businesses growth, export growth and service delivery improvement.
This week, the membership body led by its President, Rocky Mmutle and Chief Executive Officer, Mmantlha Sankoloba, told local media that the association will be pushing for the design of programs that are suited to the needs of up-skilling and manufacturing employees.
While the country’s major known exports are diamonds and beef, BEMA’s position is that there is a lot that the country can export that is manufactured locally.
Mmutle says they have, as the association, identified targeted strategies to reach decision makers, business leaders, entrepreneurs and innovative startup companies so that the body can be able to provide profiles for its international partners.
“Our new look is to promote BEMA as a hub for business growth across all sectors, which will help us absorb SMMEs, who, until now, have no one to look up to,” said the new BEMA President, who recently took over from Nkosi Mwaba.
According to the BEMA President, the association will also fully align with government programmes such as the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD).
In Mmutle’s view, the main challenge facing the industry is lack of skills. “There is talk of tomato source manufacturing in Selebi Phikwe, but do we have the required skills for this,” asked the BEMA President.
For her part, BEMA CEO, Sankoloba said the association is all about opportunity for businesses to meet each other, sell to each other and help each other.
“Hence, going forward, one of our focus areas will be promoting partnerships, announcements of reforms to improve the business environment and hosting series of business networking events to achieve this,” explained Sankoloba.
Furthermore, Sankoloba says BEMA aims to develop the network and tools in assisting businesses in the various areas of Botswana to grow.
“We are aiming at having more than 100 businesses and organizations participate in our events annually, many of who are our members,” she remarked.
BEMA also aims to improve on its mandate of providing business services that help attract, retain, and expand business, expand the country’s commercial tax base and diversify export base.
The membership-based association has also shared its position regarding the singing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Last month, President Mokgweetsi Masisi signed the agreement at the African Union Summit in Ethiopia.
The agreement is set to liberalize trading of both goods and services for all African countries.
Although economists say it would take long for the agreement to come into actual implementation, BEMA says it is also yet to interrogate the agreement before it could advise its membership to get ‘the real meat from the bones’ in this new development.
However, BEMA’s view is that eliminating all tariffs in the free trade could prove problematic, but believes that as long as the majority of tariffs that affect its members are scraped, it sees value in the agreement from a manufacturing and export sector point of view.
While the agreement is set to make things easier both Botswana and African enterprises, BEMA’s position is that there would still be a need to protect local producers and industries by imposing periodic restrictions on certain products.