Given a big pivotal role that the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play in job creation and economic growth in developing or transitional countries, it is important to rethink how best to assist the SMEs; this was highlighted at SMEs Procurement Pitso this week.
The one-day Procurement and Enterprise Development Sector Pitso supported by Barclays bank culminated with every key player urged to fully support the sector.
Head of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) Africa, Marie Homan, said the SMEs are taking a leading role as engines of economic growth across all the world economies.
She said the volatile world economy arising from raging trade war between USA and China will see SMEs being the means through which economies survive.
“The future of our economies lies with the SMEs sector and therefore it is important to assist them in all ways we can. Also the SMEs need to be equipped with procurement and supply skills that are still a challenge to them. Digitalised procurement shall be instilled on them,” she added.
She emphasised that the digital revolution will profoundly impact on how small owned businesses in Botswana operate in the future.
Business Development Manager at Debswana Thatayaone Molefhi said his company has put in place procurement measures from the SMEs so as to sustain them as corporate entities. He said the majority of local SMEs businesses are faced with myriad of challenges such as lack of access to the market but said this is due to the disparity between them and corporates.
“There is a disconnection between the procuring corporates and supplying businesses because some of contracted SMEs are not meeting the supply demands of corporates at stipulated time. This seriously cripples the growth of the SMEs because of corporates’ rigorousness in doing business,” he said; emphasizing that the sector needs more support to be bolstered.
Other challenges that are said to be derailing the growth prospects include relying on one corporate by the SMEs for doing of business; hence they were urged to diversify their buyers.
Furthermore, they were encouraged to collaborate themselves to come up with viable ways of making profits to reduce reliance in supply contracts or tenders that comes after long a time.
The SMEs also decried the bumpy Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) procurement system; noting that it has not been helpful to them as its buying volume was not satisfactory.
EDD is a government’s programme meant to promote buying of local goods so as to reduce the high import bill by leveraging on the huge Government purchasing power.
Chief Negotiator at Ministry of Investment, Phadza Butale, said government is in process of reviewing the strategies that are aimed at assisting SMEs so as to promote efficiency on them.
He said it is government’s commitment to fully support the SME sector as this is shown in the desire to split ministry of trade into two by setting a fully fleshed SMEs ministry.
Barclays bank’s Managing Director, Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane, reiterated the bank’s commitment towards uplifting the small medium enterprises by unlocking the opportunities.
She said the theme of the Pitso of “Unleashing the power of procurement to create access and opportunity for SMEs to drive inclusive growth’’ speaks to their underlying support to the SMEs.
“This is directly aligned to our Enterprise and Supply Chain Development Programme, which we launched in 2017. The ESD Programme is a multi-facetted initiative that directly addresses the core needs of the SME sector such as success to funds, market and training them,” she said.