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WIBA eye America

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WIBA eye America

All systems AGOA for North West women

Finally, after years of hard work, Women in Business Botswana (WIBA) believes local women-owned businesses are poised to penetrate the AGOA market.

Running since 2000, the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) is a relaxed trade agreement between United States of America (USA) and countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

For Botswana, the initiative has resulted in mixed success, peaking with P1.8 billion worth of exports, through garments and textiles, back in 2008. However, in 2019, that figure had fallen to an embarrassing zero, with not a single Thebe raised through the deal.

Trade is said to have come to a standstill due to key exporting companies facing a combination of challenges, including: capacity, high competition and scaling. This led to a number of ventures closing shop.

With the agreement set to expire in 2025, WIBA are desperate to make the most of the time they have left.

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The organisation’s Regional Chairperson in the North West District, Christinah Leshego, says women in the area are slowly but surely making American inroads thanks to AGOA.

“We are holding virtual shows and we are getting orders. Opportunities are there and plenty. There is a big market for Morula oil and products and other natural oil products,” she told Voice Money.

Ladies in the region are also looking to cash in on the demand for traditionally weaved baskets, as Leshego explains, “The U.S buys baskets from all over Africa and we have been taking advantage of that as well.”

WIBA eye America

IN DEMAND: Nhabe baskets sold in local curio shops

Hungry to make up for lost time, she added, “Basically by the time we started knowing about AGOA, we did everything we can to workshop and encourage our members to take advantage of it and USAID has been supporting us on this journey. They help us penetrate these markets!”

Although they are currently exporting small quantities, Leshego is confident these numbers will grow.

“More will be reached, we just have to keep pushing and producing competitive products and making sure that we take care of our environment and natural resources.”

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As well as the ‘Land of the Free’, the Regional Chair revealed they are also targeting markets closer to home, participating in a virtual show for the South African market last week, where they managed to sell baskets.

When WIBA was formed in 1990, the concern was that 75 percent of the small and micro businesses were owned by women who did not have a forum where they could meet, share ideas and tackle problems unique to the gender. Officially registered in 2003, WIBA have encouraged more women to come forth and exhibit their products so that they can improve exports and grow their businesses together.

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