Stanbic’s Accelerate is a confluence of constructive ideas Larona Makgoeng
Q: Kindly introduce to us the Stanbic Bank Accelerate Programme
A: Accelerate is a flagship asset of Stanbic Bank Botswana, launched at the end of 2019 as our major investment. It was set up with the view to create shared value and address youth employability and entrepreneurship through a collaborative model that involves the affected to be role players in trying to find solutions for these two issues.
It is perhaps important to first get a sense of how creating shared value fits into our model. We’ve adopted Social, Environmental and Economic (SEE) framework as the value drivers which inform our Strategy. Our sustainability and success are inextricably linked to the prosperity and wellbeing of all. To achieve our Purpose (Botswana is our home; we drive her growth), our core business activities must support and contribute to this prosperity and wellbeing of the same society from which we derive our existence.
Though the bank’s business activities have wide and far-reaching SEE impacts in the economies and communities in which we operate, the creation of Accelerate has more to do with ensuring we have a dedicated unit that is an interface for business and society.
It is important to understand that to build any lasting impact will not be an overnight exercise, particularly joblessness and entrepreneurship development, which are prevalent in the current climate where economic activity is subdued.
Accelerate is an example of how we intend to interface our SEE strategy and dovetail it into society’s aspirations. The space is situated at Plot 28562 at Fairgrounds Mall, Unit G26, Samora Machel Road, Gaborone. It is a dynamic and fluid platform to fuel innovation and ideation, as well as incubation for impactful businesses.
Accelerate continues to drive, host and collaborate on a number of engagements working towards achieving this vision. Some of these include supporting different workstreams. One of the initiatives that highlights collaboration for shared value regarding problem solving is the Blood Hackathon initiative whose intention is to solve the challenge of blood shortages at our National Blood Transfusion Centre. This initiative sees the likes of the Office of the President, the University of Lancaster, Sturgeon Digital, I-Code Hub, Udugu Botswana, Spectrum Analytics and Stanbic Bank Accelerate, as well as a host of other role-players who will come on board as this work unfolds. This highlights what shared value is and what it could be; our role is being a mere enabler. The example is also strong in highlighting that the Accelerate space is about innovation and problem solving and that value creation is not all about money; that there are other equally important interventions that need solving but whose value is probably priceless.
Q: What motivated the need for such a programme? What it is that you want to achieve?
A: Our desire is to collaboratively work with like-minded individuals and entities to drive progress and sustainable impact, changing the narrative for youth employability and entrepreneurship. We need to be aligned on purpose around unemployment and entrepreneurship for that outcome to be realised. To make that happen, contribution to this vision ought to be voluntarily made by those who share in the vision of what we want to build. Let me give an example: The University of Botswana has offered to contribute to our cause entrepreneurial training, coaching, mentoring and associated interventions. This contribution is for the nation and comes in the form of what their core mandate entails. They are probably the best people who understand what collective undertaking entails when it comes to building towards a collective outcome because their very existence is as a result of a national collective undertaking. Now, to achieve the aspirations of Accelerate, we are hoping to have more contributors like the University of Botswana to this cause, and that is how we will create impact.
Other illustrations of what we want to achieve centre around how we work with other dedicated individuals who are doing their bit. We find ourselves contributing to advancing their missions because they don’t have all the resources to do it alone but because their dreams are exactly in line with Accelerate’s mandate. We then partner with them in their endeavours, i.e. through our partnership with Dare to a Dream and Airbus Foundation we intend to reach 1000 students and influence them towards Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Entrepreneurship. A programme like this targets students in their teens, and as you can imagine, its dividends may only be in 10 years or so when they leave university. However, the seeding is happening now.
We have also committed to the arts space. In this field, we have committed to paying for 20 music students to write and attain internationally recognised music qualifications in the United Kingdom. They will, with time, become true legends and legacies. This intervention will help these young apprentices sharpen their skills and ply their trade as true professionals.
In some cases, it is simply providing the space for entrepreneurs to launch their products and services, providing them daily operating space and associated resources, and so on.
We want to assist companies access , and for this we have recently partnered with We Connect International. Through this global platform, we will expose Botswana companies that meet the eligibility criteria set. We work to help them stake a claim at a market size that comprises multinational corporations with an annual purchasing power of circa 1 trillion dollars. We furthermore want to enable access to markets in many other ways both locally and internationally. The Bank’s Africa-China Trade Solutions is one instrument through which we have assisted local companies to purchase goods and other implements from their enterprises in China through facilitation by our Enterprise Banking Division.
Q: Who qualifies for the Accelerate programme and what criteria does the bank use to enroll beneficiaries?
A: Everyone qualifies because the objective of the platform is to foster inclusivity and not to create inhibitions through a lot of requirements. It is meant to be a platform for different people to meet, engage, test ideas off each other, validate each other.
Q: How can young Batswana make the most of this incredible platform?
A: They must want it for themselves first; the resources are available. They should show hunger and the desire to direct the course of their lives. Most importantly, they must be the vision holders. Accelerate is meant to be an enabler and not a panacea for everything. The youth must realise the space/platform is created, and then they must fully exploit it for themselves.
Q: Who are some of the partners and stakeholders engaged to help deliver on the mandate of Accelerate?
A: We have a number of strategic alliances and partnerships in place, whether project-based or overall, for the running of the incubator. Some of these include:
Local Enterprise Authority (LEA): They have been a true partner, supporting us with expertise and guidance as we started the Accelerate journey. They continue to offer support as and when necessary.
Botswana International Trade Centre (BITC): Also supported us in defining and conceptualising the space through access to knowledge and best practice. They continue to offer advisory when engaged.
Statistics Botswana: Partnership to support with much-needed data and insights to help us paint our ‘as is’ reality to stakeholders, partners and entrepreneurs, through various thought-leadership interventions, which help with decision-making and policy direction, among others.
Gabz FM: Support in disseminating information to a wider audience and supporting us to reach more Batswana in a more impactful and relevant manner. The partnership focuses on unpacking and educating budding entrepreneurs and youth alike.
We Connect: Global organisation that gives Accelerate incubated businesses market access opportunities via supplier matching, procurement from a large pool of international corporate, competency development and certification, among others.
University of Botswana: Partnership to support in rolling out the Four x 4 Model with content, resources and support.
Q: Kindly share the developments and/or activities that are ongoing at Accelerate?
GIRLS 4 GIRLS – We have proudly supported and hosted the Girls 4 Girls sessions at Accelerate, designed to promote mentorship and community leadership training for young women. Girls 4 Girls Botswana was established in October 2020 and is supported by Girls 4 Girls South Africa and the global leadership of Girls 4 Girls. The platform runs both in-person and online in cohorts with a total of 50 mentees and 30 mentors. We recognise the tremendous role this platform plays in nurturing young women into future leaders of our community. Stanbic Bank Botswana is a proud champion of Inclusive Diversity and gender. We understand that to truly live in a balanced world, we must work together to make a meaningful difference in our communities. The Girls 4 Girls programme is designed to help girls aged 15-25 years and young women between 25 and 35 years to develop the courage, vision and skills to take on public leadership and act in leading change. Bringing together insights from key leaders and a global network, we seek to mobilise a generation of mentors – women in various professions in the public, private, non-profit sectors – to grow the pipeline of women in leadership. We believe in the voices of young women, their hopes and aspirations, and their power to change their lives and make a positive impact in their community.
DARE TO DREAM AND AIRBUS FOUNDATION – In April 2021, we signed a landmark tripartite arrangement with Dare to Dream and Airbus Foundation. The partnership, yet another testament to the power of collaboration towards meaningful progress, works to deliver the Little Engineer Discovery Space Online Programme. The Little Engineer Discovery Space Online Programme seeks to engage up to 1,000 children in Botswana, educating youth between ages 10 and 16 years in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is being delivered through a series of interactive online 3D modelling workshops, moon challenge and space programmes. Stanbic Bank has procured 40 tablets for this tripartite partnership, a critical need for the rollout of the Little Engineer Discovery Space Online Programme and further look at other avenues of making this more sustainable going forward, particularly in terms of the impact reach of this programme.
Q: Kindly define the Accelerate 4×4 delivery model?
A: We offer a four-pronged approach: incubation, acceleration, access to funding and access to markets.
Under incubation, we assist business owners with concept ideas to reach refine their business ideas such that they can be bankable.
Under acceleration, we assist existing businesses to realise their true potential by providing business counselling and other relevant business support interventions for their growth and expansion.
Through access to funding, we assist companies to meet the necessary requirements by building their business case so that it can be investable.
Through access to markets, we facilitate opportunities for businesses to have access to markets.