Stanbic Bank Botswana joined forces with the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) in a bid to bolster the development of the nation’s Small Medium Enterprises sector by sponsoring prizes for the LEA Glen Valley Horticulture Incubators as part of the Stanbic Bank Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.
“Stanbic Bank Botswana hopes this effort will continue to see rewards well into the future, assisting with the development of the SME sector and horticulture in particular. It is an investment in our country as it promotes economic diversification in the country. Through such investment, competent horticultural entrepreneurs are developed and the nation’s horticultural import bill is reduced,” said Calistas Chijoro, Head of Business Bank Stanbic Botswana.
He said, “In addition, jobs are created in the horticulture sub-sector and the country’s agricultural GDP is raised.”
Stanbic Bank Botswana started relationship with LEA, choosing to sponsor to the value of P250,000.000 towards prizes for the LEA Glen Valley Horticulture Incubators
“I recall quite clearly that we shared that the prize money provided by Stanbic Bank will go towards the top three clients who are in the incubator programme. The selected three will comprise of those who have achieved outstanding production results during their incubation period each cropping season,” said Calistas Chijoro, Head of Business Bank Stanbic Botswana.
The Award ceremony is a culmination of a partnership LEA forged with Stanbic Bank in 2013, with the key objective of encouraging incubator clients to adopt and implement good horticulture management and business practices in their enterprises.
This initiative, which started in 2013, is also part of the Stanbic Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative. It involves following support services for incubators:
· LEA trained incubators on both enterprise and crop management through different training workshops
· LEA afforded them a practical experience to have a feel of what enterprise management entails, particularly on best industry practice as far as crop management/husbandry is concerned. This is the main thrust of the programme, to enable trainees to perfect their skills in crop management techniques over a period of nine months.
· Trainees were exposed to different technologies that have the potential to improve output of the horticulture commodities. Technologies such as net houses, tunnels, greenhouses, drip irrigation, the use of growing media for production as well as the use of treated effluent.
These methods and infrastructure that the Glen Valley Incubator uses to train our clients are used internationally to address challenges similar to those found locally such as extreme temperatures, limited irrigation water and unfavourable soils amongst others.
This exposure enables graduates to make informed decisions on the choice of technologies that are relevant to their environment or farm and reduces risk of project failure due to lack of experience in the technologies.
Trainees also received education on marketing strategies during the programme, to enable them to enhance the marketability and market access for their produce. They were trained on correct harvesting methods, sorting, grading, packaging, labelling and delivery of produce to the market. This high quality tomato is sold to several markets including retail stores, fresh produce wholesalers as well as the hospitality outlets.
Within the scope of this partnership, Stanbic Bank committed P250,000.00 to be awarded to the best performers amongst entrepreneurs enrolled at the Incubator.
The judging criteria was based on factors including production structure upkeep and cleanliness, crop condition (pests and diseases), production records as well as adherence to crop management techniques in the tunnels, net shades and green house structures.
“We at LEA are aware of the efforts that SMMEs make in starting and growing their businesses, we are also conscious of the limitations that these enterprises face in the daily operations of their businesses.
Hence one of the reasons we collaborate with the likes of Stanbic Bank to unlock their potential in order for them to develop sustainable enterprises,” said Masego-Gwaila Madanika, Local Enterprise Authority(LEA), Deputy CEO-Support Services.
She said, “We at LEA are cognisant of the fact that in order for the SMME sector to optimally partake in the private-sector led economic growth of this Republic, entrepreneurs need to be capacitated from all possible angles, by offering them targeted interventions that will close gaps and enable their businesses to proper.”
LEA therefore provides a number of entrepreneurial and developmental interventions to entrepreneurs such as training, mentoring, market access, business advisory and technology support to capacitate them to be able to start and grow sustainable businesses.