Wilderness supplier expo empowers citizen-owned businesses

Spread the love

Okavango Wilderness Safaris (OWS) celebrates the successful inauguration of its Local Supplier Expo recently, marking a significant milestone in the company’s commitment to fostering greater inclusion and development of citizen-owned businesses within Botswana’s tourism and hospitality value chain.

Held at the Wilderness Maun offices, the Expo welcomed approximately 120 vendors from diverse sectors, showcasing OWS’ dedication to supporting local enterprises and driving economic growth within the community, whilst also serving as a testament to the incredible depth of Botswana talent across the value chain. 

The Local Supplier Expo was officially launched by Kabelo Ebineng, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and in the presence of such guests as Jobe Ofetotse, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Environment & Tourism, Kgosi Moremi, and representatives from the OCT and the Sankuyo Trust.

Through this initiative, OWS sought to provide local entrepreneurs with opportunities to network, collaborate, and showcase their products and services to the business, with the aim of meeting the necessary requirements for inclusion in the OWS procurement ecosystem. At the Expo, significant commitments with local businesses were already announced as being explored, valued at over P1 million. 

Kabelo Ebineng noted “It satisfies me, to know that there are well over 100 exhibitors here today, each a veritable enterprise or business. I have been informed that the attendance today, is only a fraction of the small businesses operating in our borders. Featured today, are those who offer products or services within the few categories that Wilderness has. Today’s Expo is not just about showcasing products; it is a celebration of community and collaboration. It is about forging connections, sharing knowledge, and fostering partnerships that will propel our local and regional economy forward. We expect that the existing value chains as well as those that will emerge as a result of the new energy coming out from this Expo, will get stronger and more resilient.” 

The engagement served as a vibrant platform, bringing together a dynamic array of vendors representing various sectors, including ceramics, uniform, linen, towels, engine lubricants, curios, amenities, food and beverage, tyres, bulbs, toilet paper, and cleaning materials. 

Joe Matome, Caretaker Managing Director of Okavango Wilderness Safaris, expressed his enthusiasm for the event, stating, “We are thrilled to have hosted the inaugural Local Supplier Expo and to witness the incredible level of interest and energy from vendors and partners who share our ambition to enhance the empowerment of citizen businesses. This initiative underscores our unwavering commitment to promoting local entrepreneurship and fostering sustainable development within the communities we operate. By providing a platform for citizen-owned businesses to thrive, we aim to create lasting socio-economic benefits while enriching the overall tourism experience for our guests. In helping make this a success, we thank our sponsors and partners at Stanbic Bank Botswana, and of course all of our esteemed partners from Government and the private sector alike for sharing our vision and determination.” 

The 110 vendors from the Expo were approved prior as having met the basic criteria in terms of focus areas, citizen shareholding, and values alignment. They underwent evaluation further on the Expo by OWS’ senior team, comprising finance, procurement and others. Those who emerged as high performing against key criteria to make it into OWS’ procurement folder will also then be supported in the form of training and workshops, as well as possible support from like-minded partners on the day including Stanbic Bank, LEA, NDB, CEDA and other financing partners. 

OWS’ commitment to local and to Botswana continues to be a priority, as evidenced in the most recent Impact Report. Employment within the business is at 96% Batswana, with over 1,000 people employed from nearby communities. Procurement expenditure by OWS in 2023 saw 85% directed to local businesses. The target, OWS Board Chairman, Kabelo Binns shared, is to steadily and meaningfully increase the proportion of locally sourced goods and services. 

OWS’ commitment to increasing local procurement to further support Botswana businesses and strengthen the local economy remains unwavering, and the Expo served as but one example of this as a pivotal step towards achieving OWS’ vision of leveraging its influence and support to scale, grow, and strengthen local businesses, talent, and proudly Botswana products and services. Through initiatives that promote mindset change for progress, OWS aims to contribute to the sustainable development of Botswana’s tourism and hospitality sector.

error: Content is protected !!