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Botswana: Women entrepreneurs sharpen AGOA readiness

Published date:
Tuesday, 10 May 2011

More than 60 Botswana women entrepreneurs convened on Thursday to sharpen their competitive offerings and better access export markets such as those provided by the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).

Organised by the American Embassy through the Southern Africa Trade Hub in conjunction with Women in Business Association, the seminar encouraged entrepreneurs to network and use each other's skills in order to better prep their products for the American market.

Entrepreneurs from sectors such as textiles, agribusiness and handicraft were taught the opportunities and challenges of exporting through AGOA, which grants duty and quota-free entry for certain product lines into the US market.

US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Scott Hamilton encouraged entrepreneurs to share expertise and make use of each other's skills and talents in order to cultivate fertile ground for business. Hamilton also urged participants to work in clusters if they are to make it in the international market.

"We decided to host this seminar for women because research has shown that when women are involved, business brands grow and when a woman works, more people are lifted from poverty," Hamilton said. The seminar also showcased women entrepreneur success stories such as Luna Ntsume, owner of South Africa's Goldex Group and five subsidiary companies. Ntsume spoke on strategies for growing businesses, finding and keeping good managers as well as obtaining access to finance.

The successful entrepreneur, who started her property management and financial service business at the age of 22, aspires to own a bank. From the handicraft sector, Flotea Massawe of Tanzania - whose business netted profits of more than a quarter million Pula this year - shared various pieces of advice.

The seminar also revealed under-utilisation of AGOA by Botswana enterprises as only textile and clothing out of the 6,500 product lines available, have benefited from the arrangement. "In Botswana, the textile and clothing sector is the main beneficiary under AGOA," the US Department of International Trade said in a statement.

It was revealed that although AGOA contributed to increased clothing and apparel exports to the US during the period 2001 to 2008, presently only one company, Carapparel, remains out of the original 13. The industry crashed during the recession, shedding over 60 percent of jobs and is presently struggling to return to profitability.

The textile and clothing industry is the largest employer in the manufacturing sector and has a dominant female presence, who comprise 80 percent of all employees.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of Botswana's bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.

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