ReportBack: Botswana Connect
Dialogue with action – the key to affecting change in society
As the Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI), we continue to grow our footprint into new territories as we address our advocacy mandate to entrench understanding and implementation of the Shared Value Business Management concept across Africa.
To this objective, we hosted the Botswana Connect Forum on Thursday 14 October – a webinar tackling key issues affecting business and society in the country.
Opening remarks by Vuyo Lutseke from SVAI provided an overview of not only SVAI, but the concept of Shared Value in order to set the scene for the webinar. Pelonomi Ratshwene-Lesedi, Managing Director of Executive Margin and Gomolemo Lolo Madikgetla, Founder of UNGWA Africa both contributed opening remarks outlining from their own perspectives of social impact and the role of business in creating shared value.
Moderated by Omphile Sehurutshe, Head of the Project Management Office at FNB Botswana, the proceedings were soon underway. A keynote was delivered by the esteemed private sector Mabu Nteta, MD of Sechaba Holdings Limited, with the topic The importance of creating value for all and focusing on empowering women. Mabu’s address focused on value creation, and that in order to do, we need to understand the real drivers of value creation, which will help to focus resources in the most impactful ways. Disruptions in society mean business must respond.
She highlighted how vast inequalities in societies affect women and girls and inhibit their progress. Empowerment of women and girls across various areas of their lives – work, home, community – is demonstrated in their having better influence and control in their own lives and trajectory. Importantly, she highlighted, these are not just opportunities for dialogue but for action – influence policies, which benefit women and girls, and create partnerships to build up their skills.
The panel discussion took the discussion further, highlighting “Shared Value creation and economic empowerment”.
Buyile Makgekgenene, Chief Sales Officer at Orange Botswana, spoke of the importance of purpose from the perspective of a company – and using platforms like this webinar to share insights and expand on how the business community can, together, affect change. Another important element she emphasized the important of understanding the needs of a community in which a business is operating, and involve the community in the solutions that are created as well.
Shorn Molokwane, Design Lead at Botswana Institute for Technology Research & Innovation (BITRI) mentioned that economic diversification is how one can create social sustainability, where everyone is a winner: “Business models that are based on what we know, our cultural norms and ways of doing things, and applying business models to these in addressing challenges.” Our own solutions, for our communities.
Goitsemang Khutsafalo, who is the Founder & CEO of Launch It International – a young entrepreneur whose community brought him up through collective support; be it being fed, clothed or schooled – emphasised the importance of supporting others, and replicating the support that he was given. Building not just for himself, but for the community to benefit.
Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego, Chief Communications & Public Relations Officer at Mascom shared a business case where Mascom, in response to government, poured technology into 41 previously underserved villages, with telecentres built and led by local youth to provide ongoing support to the community. What was thought to be an obligation initially, turned into a business outcome with these customers contributing to the bottom line. And now there are more than 100 telecentres in these communities.
The panel included discussion on the importance of intrinsic involvement and support of a community – and agility in responding to their needs. With supporting not just women but girl children too in order to empower them to take hold of their own destinies – particularly those in marginalized communities. All agreed that it is important to be action oriented and drive the policies – that we don’t just speak, but we act, together.
In closing the webinar, Tiekie Barnard, CEO of SVAI emphasised that change is driven by bold, and intentional leadership. And that is needed to address societal issues on the continent – particularly in addressing gender equality which could be the biggest game changer for societies across the world.