NFTRC Presents at LEA seminar
National Food Technology Research Centre (NFTRC) was part of the dialogue that promoted entrepreneurship and Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) development at a Pitso and Seminar hosted by Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) in Gaborone on Thursday 26th April.
The event was themed “Empowering Botswana SMMEs in Business Development and Economic Diversification”, with a focus on transforming Botswana into a technology and innovation driven economy. The agenda was to encourage deliberations on the prevailing challenges, suggested solutions, success stories and possible strategies to unlock SMME’s potential so that they grow into competitive and sustainable entities.
The event was attended by over four hundred stakeholders across the spectrum namely; Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sports and Culture (MYSC), Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB), Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU), Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS), Sefalana Group, and NFTRC. Prominently in attendance was the major stakeholders being the current and potential entrepreneurs across the country, companies such as Big Sam Hubber, Seboana were attending among many.
When giving the keynote address, Ms Peggy Serame, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry said government will continue to put into place initiatives that will enable for development of SMMEs in Botswana. Participants at the Pitso had the opportunity to attend seminar sessions that took place in the afternoon. These platforms were hosted by various capacity building institutions and stakeholders that have the ability to impact the growth of SMMEs in Botswana.
When addressing entrepreneurs on the role of NFTRC in supporting SMMEs in the Food Processing Industry Senior Research Scientist Ms Tumelo M. Tlhong said for the past years NFTRC has been equipping Batswana on food processing skills as well as offering food testing services. She said over the years NFTRC has trained hundreds of Batswana on different processes but only a few launch into businesses and others fail due to various reasons. She continued that some of the reasons why a lot do not go into businesses are because of factors beyond skill acquisition that make an enterprise like lack of funding, managerial skills, business skills and others lack confidence on themselves; emphasising that entrepreneurship is much bigger than just knowing how to make a certain product.
Ms Tlhong added that there are other challenges that need great determination from entrepreneurs, because in a food business there are no short cuts. She said there more demanding issues like being Food safety compliant, HACCP compliant, Quality compliant etc. In the end she emphasised to participants that if there was a crucial thing to remember about NFTRC on leaving the seminar it would have to be its core purpose that is: to promote food security through commercially viable food processing technologies.
Finally she advised that NFTRC as a lead institution in food research and development is always ready to partner with current and potential entrepreneurs to exploit opportunities in the food sector, improve the quality of food, ensure food standards and promote the utilisation of local food materials.