A vibrant small and medium-sized enterprises sector is a vital ingredient for a healthy economy. According to the World Bank, SMEs are accounting for up to 90 per cent of all businesses across Sub-Saharan Africa. While smaller businesses tend to be more flexible and quicker to change than large companies, they are much more vulnerable to decline in the business environment and have fewer resources to draw on when times are hard. The result is that SMEs often fail only a few years after inception. The Botswana SME Competitiveness survey (2019) shows that young entrepreneurs often struggle to grow, and that SMEs have very low rates of certification to international standards, as well as infrastructure shortfalls. These challenges often prevent companies from going global. How can we ensure that our SMEs, that play such an important role, survive and how can we support them to take the next step? The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s unique flagship programme – the Business Supplier Development Programme (SDP) launched in 2019 is doing just that!

The SDP forms a unique partnership of three key players – large companies “the Buyers”, small to medium businesses “the Suppliers” and UNDP specially trained Batswana “Business Consultants”.  The goal of this partnership is to seek large companies’ willingness to buy locally and to support small companies to get new business opportunities. This will eventually create new jobs, diversify the economy and allow the SMEs to grow, whilst reducing poverty and inequality. The UNDP assigns these business consultants to work closely with the SMEs to mentor them to ensure the products are of the standard required by the Buyers. The sustained mentoring by the consultants to the Suppliers has shown great results to date. The SDP’s initial focus sector are; Mining, Projects (Infrastructure), Agro Processing, Leather and Textiles

The 16 professionals profiled below are the Business Consultants – our Champions! They are Batswana experienced consultants, with a strong drive to contribute their knowledge and experience to the country. They each have at least 10 years relevant consulting experience, some even around 35 years. They dedicate their time every day to guide SMEs to grow and reach their full potential. They have vast experience from different sectors, such as entrepreneurship development, project management, procurement, contract administration, mining business management, environmental management, value chain management, corporate governance, accountancy, taxation management etc. The Business Consultants give the SMEs hands-on support, come up with innovative solutions, help the companies to think outside the box and guide them on how to access funding. They assist them to find new business opportunities, give advice on how the companies can become more competitive and find new market segments. They contribute directly to the country’s transformation to the next level.

Thanks to these Consultants, many SMEs have been able to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic and some have even been able to expand their business.

Thank you, Champions for your role in diversifying the economy!  You make us proud!

The United Nation Development Programme, UNDP, is helping to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and exclusion, to develop policy and leadership skills and build institutions capacities in order to sustain development results. The private sector is a key strategic partner to achieve these goals.

Contact: Boitumelo Mbaakanyi, UNDP, SDP Project Manager, Boitumelo.mbaakanyi@undp.org

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