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  • Francistown Business Expo drives economic emancipation

The annual Francistown Business Expo (FBE) was held successfully this past week.

The two-day event took place at Marang Hotel’s verdant green gardens, attracting an impressive number of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from in and around Francistown and the northern region.

Speaking during the official opening on Thursday, FBE Executive Coordinator, Lawrence Ntsimanyana revealed the initiative was driven by a desire to uplift businesses in the north of Botswana, which they felt have been neglected for far too long.

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Ntsimanyana described the expo as a multi-sectoral business-to-business exhibition, where all types of businesses are welcome to display their products.

“Our target market are the SMEs. If you look at countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, you’ll realise that their SMEs are the biggest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We want to use the bottom-up approach, where we first strengthen the Francistown economy, which in turn contributes to the national economy,” he explained.

Ntsimanyana is convinced this can only be achieved by supporting SMEs and ensuring they take their position in the value chain.

The Executive Coordinator revealed they intend to build an incubation hub within a 12-month period, adding this will be done in partnership with some of their stakeholders.

“In the next expo, we want to see our exhibitors coming with employees to show growth, unlike today where you see just one person manning a stall,” he noted.

He said the incubation will capacitate small business owners and transform them into seasoned entrepreneurs ready to compete in the cut-throat business world.

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“The tragedy about our SMEs is that there’s very little growth. Our people are happy to make P1, 000 a month and never look at other ways of expanding businesses and increasing profits,” lamented Ntsimanyana.

In his keynote address, a South African based entrepreneur and business author, Moss Sereme applauded the event’s organisers, hailing the ‘bottom-up’ approach as the most suitable for Francistown.

The Accuracy Group’s Chief Executive Officer, who has penned books such as Start-up Talk in Africa, Dejavu Reload stressed the second capital is perfectly positioned to be a business hub.

“You take a little over 400km to reach Gaborone, Bulawayo, Kasane and Lusuaka. It is an ideal place for business,” he declared.

According to the entrepreneur and business coach, the only thing lacking is mindset change.

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“One of our biggest obstacles is ‘the 12-year wait’ which is practiced all over Africa. We start primary school aged seven and matriculate at 18 years. At this stage we’re already five years late into the economy and we don’t even know anything about stock markets but can label a grasshopper,” he said.

“Psychologists know kids learn best from ages 0-5, they observe and do what they see, hence the ‘monkey see monkey’ do mantra,” he added.

Sereme said the business ideology has to change, urging young people to take charge and stop expecting government to change their situation.

“We’re in the economic emancipation period. The change won’t be politically driven, but will come through support of the small man by giving him tools to succeed,” predicted Sereme.

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