Throughout the course of last week, our consortium partners; Ekasi Energy, CSCP and N-BiG to name a few, hosted 2-day stakeholder engagement discussions with various government and private investment bodies, followed by full-day MSME training sessions in the serene towns of Stellenbosch and East London, South Africa.
Above: A meeting session between our project SteamBioAfrica project partners, local government and private sector representatives in East London, South Africa.
Day one: Stakeholder Engagements
Talks ranged from how current government policies were structured, current market and competing fuels availability, along with what support added state funding could lend in the fight against severe bush encroachment and rangeland degradation. Of note was what contributions state institutions have made thus far, in improving the harvesting technology which will foster new and viable opportunities at the household level as well as the industrial scale.
Moreover, they also looked at the optimal integration of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) communities into our commercialisation strategy - how they stand to benefit from the unabating issue of invasive bush biomass within the South African landscape and our aim to extract value from this indefinite natural resource.
Day two: MSME Training sessions On the second day, training seminars were held for the local MSME entrepreneurs which centred on developing a business model canvas (BMC), sound financial management principles, the importance of proper record-keeping practices and ways of scaling production and preparing their business proposals for funding opportunities as they present themselves. Another welcomed observation was that an all-female audience attended the training forum in Stellenbosch. The GESI team also spoke on the embodiment of gender-inclusive and socially equitable practices into their businesses for a broader positive impact on society.
Eight modules were covered in total for participants and they were then split into groups to complete various tasks and activities to improve their overall business management skills and ways to improve their operational efficiency.
Above: Some photos from the stakeholder sessions and training forums from last week.
More planned conventions, similar in format to these, are planned to take place across Namibia and Botswana with the aim of spreading awareness, forming synergies with MSME industry players and providing much-needed training to women entrepreneurs and vulnerable communities in particular, in both rural and urban settings.