Fostering Collective Prosperity: Empowering Local SME Suppliers in Botswana’s Tourism Sector

At the heart of Botswana’s Vision 2036 is the ambition to transform the country into a high-income economy driven by innovation, sustainability, and inclusive growth. Central to this vision is the recognition that prosperity cannot be achieved in isolation but requires the collective effort and participation of all stakeholders, including small-scale SME citizen entrepreneurs and suppliers. In the context of the tourism sector, which plays a pivotal role in Botswana’s economy, empowering local suppliers is essential for realising this vision.

Established players in Botswana’s tourism sector wield significant influence and resources, making them key actors in shaping the industry’s dynamics. By actively engaging and empowering smaller suppliers in the value chain, these industry giants can catalyse a ripple effect of positive socio-economic impact. Empowering such local suppliers goes beyond mere corporate social responsibility; it becomes a strategic imperative for fostering a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and ensuring sustainable development. This is the sentiment and unfettered belief of Okavango Wilderness Safaris (OWS), who are working to enhance their ability to drive progress in this space.

Why, one may wonder? One of the primary benefits of empowering smaller suppliers is the creation of economic opportunities at the grassroots level. By sourcing goods and services locally from small-scale enterprises – be it fresh produce, handicrafts, or transport services – big players in the tourism sector inject vital capital into local economies. This not only generates income and employment opportunities for local suppliers but also stimulates economic activity in rural and marginalised communities, potentially contributing to poverty alleviation and inclusive growth. Furthermore, empowering local SME suppliers fosters a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, which are essential drivers of economic diversification and resilience. By providing support and mentorship to local entrepreneurs, big players in the tourism sector can nurture a new generation of business owners and industry leaders. This, in turn, helps to grow the entrepreneurship citizen base, aligning with Botswana’s Vision 2036 goal of fostering a dynamic and competitive private sector.

Empowering such suppliers may also contribute to the sustainability of Botswana’s tourism industry by fostering greater resilience and reducing dependency on external suppliers. By diversifying the supply chain and reducing reliance on imported goods and services, the industry becomes more adaptable to external shocks and fluctuations in global markets. This enhances the industry’s capacity to weather challenges and seize opportunities, ultimately contributing to its long-term viability and growth.

As the stage is being set ahead of OWS’s first Local Supplier Expo this March, interest in growing Botswana’s tourism sector value chain is then arguably not only a moral imperative but also a strategic imperative in line with Vision 2036. Big players in the industry have a pivotal role to play in fostering collective prosperity by actively engaging and empowering small-scale entrepreneurs and suppliers, and OWS is very much ready to lead this charge towards more inclusive growth and economic diversification, as well as laying the foundation for a more resilient and sustainable tourism industry that benefits more stakeholders across the nation.