Debswana scoops Absa Award for its impactful Supplier Development Programme

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The Projects | Supplier Development 

Debswana, the leading rough diamonds miner and Botswana flagship economic anchor late last year scooped an award at the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards. 

The 4th Annual Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards were held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the 18th November 2021. The awards celebrate companies that are working towards a better African continent through innovative and impactful supplier development initiatives. 

The selection process acknowledges and recognizes corporates who go beyond the scorecard to open access, empower SMEs, foster learning, build a community of best practice and encourage a collaborative spirit within their industries and within the communities in which they operate.

On 9 December 2021 Absa Bank Botswana organized a ceremony in Gaborone to officially hand over the award to Debswana leadership. 

Officiating at the event, Absa Bank Botswana Managing Director, Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane explained that the judges special recognition awards for Sub Saharan Africa corporates (excluding South Africa) were made under four categories being: Commitment to Economic Empowerment across the Supply Chain, Commitment to women inclusion in the supply chain, Commitment to localization of the supply chain and lastly Commitment to a pioneering supplier development. 

“We immediately thought of the transformative and inspiring work that Debswana is doing locally and what the company continues to achieve through its Citizen Economic Empowerment Program,” she said.

Pheko-Moshagane explained that in recognition of this commitment and outstanding leadership Absa nominated Debswana Diamond Company into the competition under the category: “commitment to economic empowerment across the supply chain,” for which the company was selected as the winner.” 

The Absa Bank Botswana MD hailed Debswana Citizen Economic Empowerment Program as a true example of how the private sector can contribute to rebuilding the economy through and post the Covid -19 pandemic.

“Your commitment to citizen economic empowerment resonates with us at Absa bank because we are also committed to and passionate about growing Small and Medium businesses as they represent a vital part of our economy,” she said. 

In 2017 Absa launched the Enterprise and Supply Chain Development (ESD) in the local market as a response to address some challenges faced by the SMEs. The main objective of ESD is to unlock lending to SMEs in corporate value chains.

The introduction of the ESD program has streamlined some of the stringent financing requirements like the provision of financial statements, security, historical performance and weak credit ratings. 

The relaxation of the financing requirements has therefore enabled the SMEs to execute on the provision of goods or services for the clients and positively impacted their growth. 

ESD uses non-traditional bank lending solutions to provide financing to SMEs. Through this program Absa offers 100% finance to Enterprises in corporate supply chains. 

Moshagane said this approach has allowed Absa to unlock the opportunities within the large corporate as they are now assured that their suppliers and contractors will be able to deliver and in addition releasing the corporate cash flows.

“We continue to explore various partnership agreements with various corporates to see how best we can assist the SMEs in response to government’s call for Citizen Economic Empowerment by propelling the support of the SMMEs,” she said. 

Speaking to Absa and Debswana partnership, Pheko-Moshagane said  the relationship thus far has seen Debswana extend contracts to the value of BWP1.2 billion to SMEs on a  joint program, and Absa has financed close to half a billion to these SMEs, some of which would not have ordinarily qualified for funding under normal banking circumstances. 

“To date no SME on the program has had its banking or contract facility terminated, which speaks to the commitment on both our ends in ensuring the success of these SMEs,” she said. 

Receiving the award, Debswana Acting Managing Director, Lynette Armstrong explained that Debswana started its Citizen Economic Empowerment journey with ABSA Bank in 2017, borne out of the realisation of access to finance challenges by citizen owned enterprises. 

This partnership, initiated with a deliverable to implement a pilot project at Orapa Letlhakane Damtshaa Mines within the crushing and drilling spaces. 

The two projects delivered the desired results in project KPI’s with impeccable safety records with Absa providing the required access to finance that enabled the citizen suppliers to acquire machinery for the projects. 

 In 2019, Debswana set up the Citizen Economic Empowerment Programme office a factor that accelerated the signing of an MoU in 2020 on access to finance between Debswana and Absa and in that, Absa has pledged to avail access to finance totalling an unprecedented BWP1billion over a period of three years.

To date, Absa has financed 23 projects since 2020 at a total impact of BWP1.5 billion pula in contract amount with more than BWP700 million advanced to citizen suppliers.

These funds enabled citizen suppliers to pay salaries on time, procure machinery in various areas such as drilling and crushing and participate in the recent LTE installation at Jwaneng Mine. 

 Armstrong said in the coming year 2022, CEEP will see Debswana focused on implementing plans aimed at supporting local manufacturing and local repairs and maintenance.

“This is where access to funding is key as the two areas of local manufacturing and local repairs and maintenance have a potential to create meaningful and sustainable employment in the medium to long term to achieve Debswana’s target of 20 000 jobs by 2024,” she said.

She noted that Debswana has committed to heightened efforts of connecting the Youth and Women in the Debswana Citizen Economic Empowerment conversation, capacitation series and participation in the economic opportunities to further, totally involve all possible demographics and diversify the creativity of building sustainable communities and Make Life Brilliant for all, a total commitment of our Debswana Strategy 2024.

The Debswana Acting MD said the recognition of Debswana for its commitment to economic empowerment across the supply chain by is an encouragement to the Debswana – Absa partnership and, “gives us hope to further intensify our efforts to create opportunities for our fellow citizens and support government’s efforts towards achieving prosperity for all in terms of Vision 2036.” 

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