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The Experience of Botswana Chamber of Commerce & Industry in SMEs Development

Victor Somolekae


Botswana Chamber of Commerce & Industry was registered in 1989 under the Societies Act of Botswana. It is a non-profit making and non political NGO. During the pre-independent days the Chamber that existed by then served only a few whites as the majority of businesses were owned by them.

It was only after independence gained in 1966 that some few locals pursued the idea of establishing a national representative Chamber finally registering it in 1989. B.C.C.I established a secretariat in 1996 and has since been serving its members.

Target Group

It was formed to assist especially the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. There was a need to assist this group as it was found to be in dire need of business management and marketing skills. This group lacked project planning and technical skills.


The Chamber is therefore engaged in imparting these skills by organising seminars where this group is trained. Training is also done

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in conjunction with other institutions and also by referring them to other local and regional centres doing training on specific skills.

Lobby on Government

The Chamber lobbies the Government to device policies, which protect the interest of the business community. It vigorously speaks against any law, which is seen as impeding business growth and development. Though big entrepreneurs are not debarred from membership, 80% of its members are SMEs.

Information Centre

The Chamber is the main Information Centre as it provides trade information for its members and the interested groups. Members are assisted towards selection of productive businesses and availability of local and international opportunities. Feasibility studies are done on project location and marketing together with availability of raw material.

Participation in Government Committees

The achievement so far realised is the recognition by government to invite the Chamber to participate in the following government committees.

  1. The High Level Consultative Council chaired by His Excellency the President.

  2. The Rural Development Council chaired by His Honour the Vice President.

  3. The Sectoral Committees of
    1. Ministry of Agriculture
    2. Ministry of Commerce and Industry
    3. Ministry of Education
    4. Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication
    5. Ministry of Mineral Energy and Water Affairs

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    6. Ministry of Local Government, Lands and Housing

The Chamber has participated in the following as well:

  1. The Government Salaries Review Commission

  2. The Task Force on SMEs

  3. The Task Force on Privatisation

  4. The Vision 2016

  5. The 2000 Coordinating Forum

  6. The Trade & Liquor Act Review Commission

This is seen as a major achievement as it was not easy to convince Government to grant this involvement.

Improvement and Discovery of Markets for SMEs

In an attempt to improve the marketing of members' products and services the Chamber has been sending entrepreneurs to participate in

  1. Local and Regional Trade Fairs.

  2. holding Business Week where entrepreneurs bring together their goods for display to attract buyers.

  3. Sending members to attend fashion shows in the region.

Quality Control & Performance Standards

Of course members are encouraged to produce quality products which can be exported and compete well in other external markets. The Chamber therefore sources good raw materials from supplies for the benefit of its members.

Considering the economy of the country, some services may be provided to non-members with an encouragement of them to join.

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Monitoring & Counselling

Field visits are undertaken to entrepreneurs to assess their progress and to advise them on the spot. These visits may be taken after a request is made by an entrepreneur or just through the Chamber initiative.


There are limitations in terms of finance, transport and manpower. As the country is wide some places are not easily reachable due to poor, or lack, of communication and poor road system.

Cooperation With Other Institutions Supporting SMEs

There is good cooperation between the Chamber and other institutions. The Chamber continues liase with the following:

  1. Ministry of Commerce & Industry

  2. Botswana Confederation of Manpower Commerce & Industry (BOCCIM)

  3. Exporters Association of Botswana

  4. Women Finance House

At times the Chamber has addressed seminars with Youth Organisations to try and assist the youth to start projects which could create employment for them.


As the aims and objectives of the chamber are to empower SMEs towards running productive businesses which will eventually raise their standard of living and provision of incomes, it continues to attract this group though faced with scarce resources. It is also the believe of the Chamber that by creating employment for the people, this will socially reduce crime.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | November 1999

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