Programme Director of Tokafala, Ineke Van Der Weijden has urged more companies to come on board to support small, macro and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in order to diversify the country’s economy away from diamonds.
Van Der Weijden was speaking at this year’s ‘Connecting Resources and Society’ conference in Gaborone this week. She emphasised the need to partner with enterprises development to gauge what is available in the external markets for diversification.
Tokafala, an enterprise development initiative, is a partnership between the Botswana Government, Debswana, De Beers and Anglo American aimed at promoting economic development and employment creation by catalysing the growth of small, micro and medium companies. It seeks to improve market access, establish supply chain and link SMMEs to business opportunities with Debswana and other partners.
As a relatively small country, she said Botswana has potential to include more large businesses to the programme for entrepreneurs to benefit and build more value chain. “Government of Botswana, De Beers, Anglo American and Debswana need to engage more partners to come on board and establish activities that can lead to diversification, of which Tokafala is a good example. Entrepreneurship programme has a lot of opportunities; it lies with spending more in the SMMEs as government and other stakeholders,” she said.
She indicated that they are at discussion level with other stakeholders to look into supporting this programme further. “SMMEs do not function in isolation. You cannot create a diversified economy without them. We need bigger companies such as Debswana to partner with them. If you set up a programme like Tokafala you need to realise its value and sustainability is important. Actions are lacking to realise SMME potential here in Botswana and lack of access to funding remains a challenge as well.”
According to her, the approach at Tokafala is tailor-made but what is most essential is to drive sustainability going forward.
Meanwhile, the two day conference was set to explore the role of Botswana’s diamond industry in the socio-economic development of the country since independence, almost 50 years ago. Industry experts met to discuss how responsible resource management can safeguard the benefits of resource extraction for future generations. The conference, organised by Chatham House, a world-leading independent policy institute, was hosted jointly by the De Beers Group of Companies and the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources.