As at March 2021, the number of jobs that the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) sustained through COVID-19 intervention facilities stood at 4113 while 8410 new jobs were created.
Upon the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, CEDA came up with initiatives to support the SMME sector, offering 1550 funded businesses repayment holidays and suspending all litigations.
Chief Executive Thabo Thamane says the Agency granted 1550 businesses repayment holidays after the first lockdown in March 2020 and that most businesses that benefited were in the tourism and transport sectors.
CEDA introduced COVID-19 Emergency Fund in March 2020 to assist businesses with bridging finance during the pandemic. The Agency introduced Letlhabile in May 2020 in an effort to support micro entrepreneurs to get back to business after the first nationwide lockdown. Together with other government agencies, CEDA administered the Industry Support Facility starting in the third quarter of the 2020/21 financial year.
In July 2020, CEDA revised a version of its borrowing guidelines launched in 2019. The overall objective was to empower and facilitate sustained support for the improved competitiveness of SMEs in Botswana in the course of the pandemic. Since the launch of the revised guidelines, Thamane says CEDA has approved loans amounting to P624 million, funding 6400 businesses.
As at the year ended March 2021, the Agency had received 18,607 applications valued at P5.377 billion. They included 8,971 approved applications valued at P709 million. “The high performance is due to the revision of the CEDA guidelines and introduction of new products to curb the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting extra ordinary factors,” says Thamane.
The Agency has assisted a total of 7540 businesses through its various COVID-19 interventions at a value of P79 million.
According to Thamane, the Letlhabile product was the most popular of the interventions and the Agency is in the process of reviewing it with the aim of making Letlhabile a permanent product aimed at assisting micro entrepreneurs.
“The uptake of the product was relatively good and the monitoring of the existing loan book has shown that it would be worthwhile to review the funding requirements to ensure that the product is more accommodating for the informal sector,” he says, adding that this would in turn ensure that it remains a product for the long-term, as opposed to being restricted to this COVID period.
Thamane says CEDA will focus on the manufacturing and agribusiness sectors with an emphasis on value chain development in line with priorities of national development. He does not see this undermining development of other key sectors as it will be dictated by prevailing market conditions and dynamics but will ensure that rationalisation and optimisation of resources is geared towards supporting these focus sectors.
“This will be underpinned by a portfolio mix that retains high value-high impact enterprises and growth oriented micro and small enterprises,” Thamane emphasises.