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    CSR: A Stepping Stone in Regional Markets


    International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2007, © International Trade Centre

    A Botswana entrepreneur, inspired to make his continent a safer and cleaner place, is using his South-South connections to expand his waste sanitation business.

    My story started when I had the opportunity to go and study in the United States. It was very different from the environment that I was used to in Africa. I decided that I really wanted to venture into a business where I could contribute in a small way to make Africa a cleaner and safer place.

    The company was founded in 2000. We offer services in solid waste management, medical waste management and waste-water treatment. Wave has branch offices around Botswana and an office in South Africa. We have started exporting our medical waste management service to South Africa and hope to expand to Mozambique soon.

    Botswana declared 2005 a year of drought and so we aimed to design a product that would conserve limited water resources. We are proud that within eight months, we designed, tested and launched a grey water recycling system for homes, hotels and hostels. We hope to market our exciting product to arid environments around the world.

    Botswana has a limited market with a population of only 1.7 million people, so reaching international markets is quite a priority for us. We invest in building extensive networks with governments and the private sector. We have visited most countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to explore business opportunities and establish new contacts. These contacts have helped us to have access to superior technologies and new markets. Recruiting people from the SADC region makes it easier for us to expand into the regional market.

    Corporate responsibility is good for our business

    Our international network is not at the expense of local presence. We believe that to leapfrog to international markets, it has to be from a strong local base.

    We built a strong partnership with local authorities, businesses and communities by becoming a main sponsor of the "Clean Up the World Campaign" in Botswana. Our involvement in this community initiative has accorded us a remarkable position in our nation in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The marketing mileage we derive from such acknowledgement is quite significant. The strong local contacts we build provide the sound references needed to develop our company business across the borders from Botswana.

    To address the concerns of global competition, we decided to embark on a policy of smart partnerships with a regional company and an international giant. This has helped build the capacity of our environmental engineers and has given us access to superior technologies that we can market in our region.

    Our smart partnerships have paid off. We are now embarking on multi-million dollar contracts on water treatment and solid waste management projects. We hope to continue to trade across the region and even globally in the near future. As an entrepreneur, I am diversifying into other businesses. It is an exciting time for us.

    Mr Motalaote can be contacted at smotalaote@yahoo.com

    See also Cleaning Up: Environmental Services in Botswana