Contractors challenged to support local economy

Andrew Maramwidze - BG reporter
Wednesday, 30 October 2019
Contractors challenged to support local economy

Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association (BEMA) chief executive says sourcing local by businesses will increase employment levels.

Mmantlha Sankoloba said that if more businesses source locally produced goods and services to supplement imports, not only will employment be created, but also sustainable skills development through skill transfer. Contrary to popular belief and thought that deems this as too lofty she said it is a goal that is quite attainable with the right approach in place and collective stakeholder efforts.  She bemoaned that big projects are often under explored, regarding how they can benefit locals.

“That is why at the Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association, we have taken the initiative of approaching local or foreign contractor companies awarded with large scale projects, to see how we can work together for the betterment of Botswana businesses, the community and create long term business linkages,” said Sankoloba. She said contractors of large scale projects often import instead of considering the local producers first, arguing that it is more costly to obtain local input or strict contractual obligations with cross-border suppliers.

“We have met few contractors, sensitisng them on the need to obtain their input from the local manufacturers. “We are not compelling them to totally ignore their contractual obligations with cross-border suppliers and are simply asking them to consider local manufacturers and add them to their supplier chain.”

“BEMA believes that there is no greater investment than contributing to the domestic value chain, as that breeds other factors such as increased employment levels which will in turn have a positive impact on Botswana’s overall economic outlook”.When the Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association (BEMA) was first established two decades ago, it was created by a visionary leader who wanted to witness it serving not only domestic businesses but also the local communities throughout the country.

That is why in essence the mandate of the Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association goes beyond not only ensuring that businesses operate in a fair landscape, but they also partake in sustainable business practices. “The Association’s definition of sustainable business practices is very concise and elaborate, as we define such as practices that adhere to the stakeholder theory. “In layman’s terms, one could say the existence of a business is not only for profit maximisation, a business entity ought to take into account the fact that it exists in a web, this web constitutes a broad spectrum of stakeholders”.

In the case of manufacturing, BMA believes that a corporate entity has to regard the community it operates in, meaning that it has to contribute to the employment growth; value chains and embark on corporate social investment (CSI/CSR). It is common knowledge that Botswana continues to face unemployment escalations; the status quo demonstrates government as the largest employer in the country. As an Association that represents private sector businesses, BEMA are actively working to influence change of the narrative.

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