Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana, under the leadership of Mooketsi Bennedict Tekere who runs an ed-tech startup based in Botswana, has been at the forefront of taking Botswana’ entrepreneurship ecosystem to be part of joining Africa’s growing scene of tech ecosystem and startup acceleration into collaboration with diverse ecosystems across Africa. This has seen Botswana’ entrepreneurship ecosystem collaborate with organisations like the Africa Business Angels Network (ABAN), the World Bank Group, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Smart Africa, Global Entrepreneurship Week Rwanda, TEF Hub Rwanda, UNCTAD and Global Entrepreneurship Network Mauritius, Empretec Mauritius and Startup Ecosystem Developers. The journey for Botswana has been from ecosystem thinking to ecosystem action supported by the global startup ecosystem.
The story of the Botswana ecosystem action is credited to the journey of the partners below;
Tomi Davies, president and co-founder of the African Business Angels Network invited Botswana to the annual ABAN Investors Summit in Cape Town, South Africa. Sharing Botswana’s ambition on banking on human capital supported by technology to transform its economic sectors and for economic diversification led to the President of ABAN connecting GEW host Botswana to the World Bank Group representatives in Gaborone, Botswana, who provided a platform for connecting 100 tech entrepreneurs in Mochudi, Botswana.
A digital transformation and network readiness gathering that shared information on the pan-African pilot program, XL Africa’s objective which is to scale up high-growth digital start-ups that are providing services and generating revenue while creating employment. The program aimed to help inform businesses that attract capital between $250,000 and $1.5 million. Paul Noumba Um, World Bank country director for southern Africa who attended the gathering in Botswana, said XL Africa showed that scaling up Africa’s top start-ups was a worthwhile project which needs continued support and that Botswana was no exception hence the engagement.
“It’s great to see the World Bank Group develop a platform such as XL Africa for identifying and nurturing innovative and disruptive startups, but we need to continue building national and regional ecosystems to multiply these successes,” said Paul Noumba Um.
Giving examples of the 20 startups for XL Africa accelerator covered startups from Nigeria, Kenyan, and South Africa. One outstanding of the XL Africa startups was Asoko Insight, a data company that secured $3.6 million in Series A funding round. Additionally, information sourced from Disrupt Africa news platform went on to prove that Nigerian startups are the best represented with nine selected for the programme: data company Asoko Insight, fintech startup Electronic Settlement Limited, e-delivery platform Metro Africa Express (MAX), event booking space ogaVenue, e-learning startup PrepClass, digital printing platform Printivo, power-as-a-service startup Rensource, HR management startup Talentbase, and Wi-Fi provider Tizeti. Kenya is represented by five startups, namely recruitment startup Lynk, business chat app Ongair, financial product price comparison platform PesaBazaar, e-courier app Sendy, and Sokowatch, a last-mile ordering and distribution platform for small retailers. Three startups from South Africa have been selected – data analysis company Aerobotics, e-book distributor Snapplify, and travel startup Timbuktu – and two from Tanzania in the form of micro-health insurance startup Jamii and cloud platform Rasello. Senegalese mobile marketplace CoinAfrique also makes the top 20. The window for countries in Southern Africa and their startups ecosystem remains widely open as shown by the reports of the participation into XL Africa- a position that Botswana tech ecosystem seeks to disrupt in 2018.
Learning about XL Africa startup ecosystem and the virtual support of African Business Angels Network, Botswana entrepreneurship ecosystem went on to be connected with Global Entrepreneurship Network Mauritius for an engagement that was organised in Kigali, Rwanda under the title of African Entrepreneurship Policy Forum. This regional Forum was convened by UNCTAD to learn from successes, setbacks and best practices in implementing entrepreneurship policies in Africa, engaging existing partnerships at regional level (African Union, NEPAD, COMESA, EAC). Global Entrepreneurship Week Botswana was able to take out of the forum the following outcomes :
- Learning about technical aspects of developing and implementing national entrepreneurship policies based on UNCTAD's "Entrepreneurship Policy Framework"(EPF) methodology and existing good practices in Africa, including how to integrate entrepreneurship in the broader sustainable development agenda (SDGs)
- Getting a good understanding of the complexity in designing and implementing entrepreneurship policies, and their role in regional and national specific contexts
- Acquiring knowledge of possible strategies, best practices and examples of entrepreneurship policy and programmes in Africa
Progressively realizing that entrepreneurship-ecosystem connectivity and collaboration was key to this forum, a sit-down between Botswana lead and some Rwanda entrepreneurs led to a mission planned for Rwanda that would see Botswana entrepreneurs proposing to explore collaboration with Tony Elumelu Foundation Hub Rwanda and Rwanda entrepreneurs. This mission saw Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana come back to Rwanda in February with more than 10 entrepreneurs with an aim to explore business collaborations and ecosystem exchange. Hosted by Tony Elumelu Foundation Hub Rwanda, the forum led to more than just an exchange, but MoUs and Government of Rwanda and Rwanda entrepreneurs provided opportunities for Botswana entrepreneurs to connect, invest and trade. One of the amazing partnerships to be highlighted was the visit and recognition of Botswana entrepreneurs visit by SMART AFRICA. Global Entrepreneurship Network Botswana has since proposed facilitating the spread of knowledge on ways to help entrepreneurs create jobs, accelerate innovation and to drive collaboration with Smart Africa.