The United Nations Development Programme – UNDP – has expanded its unique “Business Supplier Development Programme” (SDP) to support participating Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to live through the Covid-19 pandemic, stay profitable and avoid job losses. This support facilitates continuous and smooth supply chains, access to funding and the diversification of products and market focus of the SME Suppliers. The companies are also assisted to access relevant benefits, in line with Government’s ‘Guidelines for Botswana Covid19 Pandemic Relief Fund’.
UNDP is expanding its flagship programme – “the Business Supplier Development Programme”. The programme forms a partnership of three key players – large companies “the Buyers”, small to medium businesses “the Suppliers” and 16 Batswana experienced 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 goal will eventually create new jobs and diversify the economy whilst reducing poverty and inequality.
By expanding the programme, UNDP will give additional assistance to SME Suppliers to ensure Suppliers can stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. These measures will maintain the continuity of the programme and secure the supply value chain, so that the flow of Supplies to the Buyers is smooth during this challenging time. At least 95 per cent of SDP Suppliers are essential service providers, they are geographically spread in the whole country and produce a wide range of services and products – a reflection of their importance to the Botswana economy.
UNDP Representative Jacinta Barrins says: “We believe at this critical moment small and medium businesses need hands-on support to quickly maneuver the new reality and extra muscles to be able to change and re-orient its existing business. For UNDP, it is fundamental to give this support in close dialogue with the companies and in their own environment.”
For example, local banks are putting extraordinary services and loans in place to support the private sector. This is vital, but as a small business owner you may not have the resources or knowledge to apply for the loans. That is where the Business Consultant would step in and develop the necessary business plan or payment plan for the company.
Let’s look at two examples from the last few weeks highlighted by UNDP Representative Jacinta Barrins: “A company was producing work clothes and experienced a falling market with no demand. The Business Consultant supported the company and identified an opportunity to start producing necessary protective clothing, including masks. However, this required new trading licenses, and relevant certification, which takes time and knowledge to get. The Business Consultant stepped in again and helped with the administrative work. Another company, in the dairy sector, specialized in supplying hotels lost all its Buyers since the hotels had been closed down as part of the lockdown guidelines. A Business Consultant with long and relevant experience supported the company to find a new market segment, and the company now instead supplies the health sector with dairy products.
The participating SDP Buyers, and hence ultimate beneficiaries of smoothened supply value chains, during this challenging time, are; Botash, Lucara, Khoemacau, Morupule, Cresta Group, Grand Palm Hotel and the National Agro Processing Plant (NAPRO).
Many more companies will receive support in the coming months, which will help develop new products and services and expand their market focus during the pandemic. The UNDP Business Supplier Development Programme will support companies to grow their business rather than downsize or go bankrupt during the pandemic.
UNDP, with presence in about 170 countries, 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 crucial to achieve these goals and is an important strategic partner.