The big American dream

Baitshepi Sekgweng

Local SMMES exhibit at US-Africa Summit

The US-AFRICA Summit held at the Royal Aria Convention Centre in Tlokweng last week has come and gone, leaving a lasting impression in the memories and pockets of various sectors such as transport, hospitality and Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs).

The different businesses benefitted through sales made at their stalls, transport, accommodation and catering services as well as possible leads for new market opportunities.

With over 1,000 participants from the United States and across the African continent, including government officials, private sector executives, investors, and multilateral stakeholders, the summit also provided local SMMES with an opportunity to secure new markets and any export opportunities.

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While business leaders, African and US officials deliberated on issues surrounding enhancing the continent’s value in global value chains, The Voice Staffer, Baitshepi Sekgweng took to the stalls to engage with various exhibitors on the sidelines of the summit.

The big American dream

Oarabile Proctor – Proctor & Hides

Based in Tsabong, Proctor & Hides was conceptualised in 2015 but operations started in 2020 during the Covid-19 era when Proctor had enough time and energy to devote to the business due to frequent lockdowns.

Dealing with skins and hides for game animals and cattle, Proctor started off collecting skins and hides and taking them to a tannery in South Africa and thereafter selling them and making different custom made products such as cushions, beautiful hides and carpets.

“I grew up in a farm and it was common to see skins being thrown away and I thought I had to do something or make an impact at a smaller scale. Tsabong is a cattle farming area and I have so much access to cattle hides and game hides since there are also game farms in the area,” shared Proctor.

According to Proctor his geographical location is currently a challenge for his business since it is far from Gaborone and Maun which are the selling points. “I realised that I can get some point of sale machine because I missed out on some of the customers just because they couldn’t swipe. Also I was able to talk to government officials for engagement and a whole lot of exposure I got here. The market has to start locally before gradually marketing ourselves to the outside world. In the first two days of the summit people were tense and rigid but eventually there was improvement and sales were better. To be honest I wasn’t looking more into selling that much but rather promoting my business, that’s why I brought mostly products which I placed on display,” said Proctor when quizzed about his experiences with the summit.

The big American dream

Lebogang Oitsile – Maungo Crafts

A food processing company based in Gaborone, Maungo crafts specialises in manufacturing chilli sauces, jams, fruit rolls and syrups with star ingredients being indigenous fruits such as morula, baobab (Mowana fruits) and lerotse. Available in abundance in local retail stores, Maungo Crafts was established in 2017.

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“The main thing from the summit has been the exposure we got since people were able to taste and sample our products and make the decision to buy. So we have been able to make sales and meet our customers for feedback. So we have even been able to make some business leads with people who are opening hotels and guests houses who are willing to have our products in their menus. We had a whole lot of people buying, at some point in time we were out of stock and had to bring more to the summit,”

The big American dream

Thato Leteane – Nubian Seed

An eco friendly beauty cosmetic brand, Nubian Seed was one on the exhibitors at the US-Africa Summit, reaping on the benefits of daily sales and making business-to-business deals. With a focus on using indigenous ingredients such as morula and moretologa to make cosmetics and beauty products such as organic body oils, soaps and lotions mainly sold online.

According to Leteane, through the summit they have been able to network with different sectors of the economy. “When Brand Botswana brought us together there were so many sectors which we realised we could collaborate with such as packaging and bottling industries. We were not aware of them but now we have met and collaborated. Further, we had people from Germany and Turkey inquiring about our products and even making purchases. Apart from the sales we were more excited about the curiosity around our products, a lot of people are travelling so they can’t take certain sized bottles so that’s why some couldn’t buy our products,”

The big American dream

Lettah Mmathati – Tsatsi Le Etla Basket Group

Tsatsi-Le-Etla Basket group was one of those enterprises which showcased at the summit with baskets ranging from small to medium and large sizes. Adopting a more of a cooperative model, it was formed in 2012 in Motlhabaneng and it comprises 28 women altogether.

“What we wanted to achieve was for Batswana to recognise our business as well as get exposure. The summit was a blessing because throughout, we managed to make sales and many have opted to make orders at a later date post the summit. Most importantly I have been able to network with other people who are into the business of making crafts, and have exchanged knowledge based on the various products we specialize in. I have met one woman who is into molding of of clay pots (dinkgo) so we have agreed on exchange of knowledge, I teach her what I do and vice versa,” said Mmathati who said she was sponsored by the Bobirwa Region youth office to grace the summit.

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The big American dream

Kgosi Mosupiemang – Artist & photographer

A specialist in photography and fine art, Mosupiemang pointed out that being part of the summit was worth it since he has always wanted to take his art out of the country. “The exposure has been massive since I managed to meet investors interested in my art and so far so good. We have engaged and everything is promising, so I’m looking forward to taking my art outside of Botswana because that has been my dream because I didn’t want to be just a local artist. I have met some British men who are having an art exhibition around November who wants my art to be showcased there, so its a good starting point. Sales have been good too though 90 percent of those were from foreigners”.

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