BOTSWANA IGNITES ENTREPRENEURSHIP GROWTH

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Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana, under the leadership of Mooketsi Bennedict Tekere who runs a ed-tech start-up based in Botswana has been at the forefront of taking Botswana’ entrepreneurship ecosystem to be part of joining Africa’s growing scene of tech ecosystem and startup acceleration into collaboration with diverse ecosystems across Africa. This has seen Botswana’ entrepreneurship ecosystem collaborate with organisations like the Africa Business Angels Network (ABAN), The World Bank Group, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Smart Africa, Global Entrepreneurship Week Rwanda, TEF Hub Rwanda, UNCTAD and Global Entrepreneurship Network Mauritius,  Empretec Mauritius and Startup Ecosystem Developers. The journey for Botswana has been from ecosystem thinking to ecosystem action supported by the global startup ecosystem.

The story of the Botswana ecosystem action is credited to the journey of the partners below.

Photo Credit: #ForoZagaleta2018

Tomi Davies, President and co-founder of the African Business Angels Network invited Botswana to the annual ABAN Investors Summit in CapeTown, South Africa. Sharing Botswana’s ambition on banking on human capital supported by technology to transform its economic sectors and for economic diversification led to the President of ABAN connecting GEW host Botswana to the World Bank Group representatives in Gaborone, Botswana who provided a platform for connecting 100 tech entrepreneurs in Mochudi, Botswana. A digital transformation and network readiness gathering that shared information on the pan-African pilot program, XL Africa’s objective which is to scale up high-growth digital start-ups that are providing services and generating revenue while creating employment. The program aimed to help inform businesses that attract capital between $250,000 and $1.5 million. Paul Noumba Um, World Bank country director for southern Africa who attended the gathering in Botswana, said XL Africa showed that scaling up Africa’s top start-ups was a worthwhile project which needs continued support and that Botswana was no exception hence the engagement. Paul Noumba Um further emphasised that “It’s great to see the World Bank Group develop a platform such as XL Africa for identifying and nurturing innovative and disruptive start-ups, but we need to continue building national and regional ecosystems to multiply these successes.”

Giving examples of the 20 startups  for XL Africa accelerator covered startups from Nigeria, Kenyan, and South Africa. One outstanding of the XL Africa startups was Asoko Insight, a data company that secured $3.6 million in Series A funding round. Additionally, information sourced from Disrupt Africa news platform went on to prove that “Nigerian startups are the best represented with nine selected for the programme: data company Asoko Insight, fintech startup Electronic Settlement Limited, e-delivery platform Metro Africa Express (MAX), event booking space ogaVenue, e-learning startup PrepClass, digital printing platform Printivo, power-as-a-service startup Rensource, HR management startup Talentbase, and Wi-Fi provider Tizeti. Kenya is represented by five startups, namely recruitment startup Lynk, business chat app Ongair, financial product price comparison platform PesaBazaar, e-courier app Sendy, and Sokowatch, a last-mile ordering and distribution platform for small retailers. Three startups from South Africa have been selected – data analysis company Aerobotics, e-book distributor Snapplify, and travel startup Timbuktu – and two from Tanzania in the form of micro-health insurance startup Jamii and cloud platform Rasello. Senegalese mobile marketplace CoinAfrique also makes the top 20”. The window for countries in Southern Africa and their startups ecosystem remains widely open as shown by the reports of the participation into XL Africa- a position that Botswana tech ecosystem seeks to disrupt in 2018.

Learning about XL Africa startup ecosystem and the virtual support of African Business Angels Network, Botswana  entrepreneurship ecosystem went on to be connected with Global Entrepreneurship Network Mauritius for an engagement that was organised in Kigali, Rwanda under the title of African Entrepreneurship Policy Forum. This regional Forum was convened by UNCTAD to learn from successes, setbacks and best practices in implementing entrepreneurship policies in Africa, engaging existing partnerships at regional level (African Union, NEPAD, COMESA, EAC). Global Entrepreneurship Week Botswana was able to take out of the forum the following outcomes :

  • Learning about technical aspects of developing and implementing national entrepreneurship policies based on UNCTAD’s “Entrepreneurship Policy Framework”(EPF) methodology and existing good practices in Africa, including how to integrate entrepreneurship in the broader sustainable development agenda (SDGs)
  • Getting a good understanding of the complexity in designing and implementing entrepreneurship policies, and their role in regional and national specific contexts
  • Acquiring knowledge of possible strategies, best practices and examples of entrepreneurship policy and programmes in Africa

Progressively realizing that entrepreneurship -ecosystem connectivity and collaboration was key to this forum, a sit-down between Botswana lead and some Rwanda entrepreneurs led to a mission planned for Rwanda that would see Botswana entrepreneurs proposing to explore collaboration with Tony Elumelu Foundation Hub Rwanda and Rwanda entrepreneurs. This mission saw Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana come back to Rwanda in February with more than 10 entrepreneurs with an aim to explore business collaborations and ecosystem exchange. Hosted by Tony Elumelu Foundation Hub Rwanda, the forum led to more than just an exchange, but MoUs and Government of Rwanda and Rwanda entrepreneurs provided opportunities for Botswana entrepreneurs to connect, invest and trade. One of the amazing partnerships to be highlighted was the visit and recognition of Botswana entrepreneurs visit by SMART AFRICA. Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana has since proposed facilitating the spread of knowledge on ways to help entrepreneurs create jobs, accelerate innovation and to drive collaboration with Smart Africa.

Photocredit: @MooketsiBTekere

As of this moment to recognising the Rwanda to Botswana entrepreneurship ecosystem collaboration/mission, the Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana debriefed for further having more engagements that have since seen the establishment of initiatives in Botswana like STARTUP GRIND, STARTUP NATIONS BOTSWANA, PITCH NIGHT, BOTSWANA ANGELS NETWORK, STARTUP HURDLE GABORONE, FUCK UP NIGHT GABORONE and more importantly the zeal for Botswana’s entrepreneurship ecosystem  getting credible recognition as a main driver to the diversification of Botswana economy through human talent and skills of the young people of Botswana. Botswana is today beneficiary of more than 3 engagements with World Bank Group supporting the ecosystem development in Botswana and driving policy towards recognition of entrepreneurship as a pillar of economic growth.

Evidence to this is the recent engagement of Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana, lead; Mr Mooketsi Bennedict Tekere with his His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Botswana ; Mokgweetsi EK Masisi . The engagement led to discussions about the ENTREPRENEURSHIP OPPORTUNITY and how young people can benefit of job-creation initiatives. These pointed to initiatives in Education, Entrepreneurship remodelling for SMEs in the Tech Ecosystem, and driving new model of SMEs with the engagement of the international community like USAID, UNCTAD and GENGLOBAL and the WORLD BANK GROUP. The focus of the discussions have had a huge impact of the ecosystem validation for Government of Botswana support and engagement to ensure that Botswana is positioned to be the number one tech ecosystem hub for Southern Africa. To put it in investors terms according to the 2018 Africa Investment Index (AII) compiled by Quantum Global Research Lab, Investors betting on the economic promise of Africa should be looking to Botswana, fourth on the index, is the highest ranked country in sub-Saharan Africa, and scores highly in business environment and risk factor parameters. Botswana ranked last year in 2017 as the continent’s top destination on the index, and that has been emerging as a leader on the continent of Africa.

Photocredit: @MooketsiBTekere

As the world entrepreneurship ecosystem congratulated Botswana on its new presidency and also the interesting ecosystem development of entrepreneurs in Botswana this opened doors for Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana and in collaboration with Startup Nations to call on the engagement of the Botswana Government at the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2018 that shall be hosted in Turkey. The Botswana Government has since acknowledged and recognised the invitation of Startup Nations and received endorsement from the World Bank Group; Gaborone. In the affirmative Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana has had to also celebrate the appointment of the youngest Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry – Miss. Bogolo Joy Kenewendo. Honoroble Minister Bogolo Joy Kenewendo is not only the youngest cabinet Minister in Botswana but in the rest of Africa. She is beckoned by a strong spirit of entrepreneurship and has been supporting member and partner of the Global Entrepreneurship Week Botswana from its inception in Botswana where she participated as trade advisor, speaker on how SMEs should position themselves with the Africa market and she has been a regular advisor to the Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana and supportive of the work that the host partner NGWANA ENTERPRISES has been doing in Botswana from education- entrepreneurship to technology ecosystem innovations in the Botswana market. The Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana ecosystem has positive expectations that with the appointment of Honoroble Minister Bogolo Joys Kenewendo to the post of Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Botswana’ entrepreneurship ecosystem will become the best in Southern Africa in the upcoming years.

Photocredit: MolayaKgosi

Whats next for the Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana is the road to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Turkey to be part of the Startup Nations Policy Dialogue to learn Insights on Global Entrepreneurship Policies that could be of benefit to Botswana. More than 130 people, including government officials from embassies representing 40 countries, investors, entrepreneurs, policy experts, and industry thought leaders  will be attending the numerous interactive discussions. “Greater collaboration between countries on entrepreneurship policy can lead to a strong global economy” – Startup Nations. Botswana continues to build its entrepreneurship ecosystem and seeking more support from global, regional and local organisations and governments. Global Entrepreneurship Network has now a vision to have over 1000 entrepreneurs in membership since inception covering all corners of the Botswana ecosystem mapping supported by diverse GEN programs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Mooketsi Bennedict Tekere

Twitter: @MooketsiBTekere

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