Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Informal economy capacity building

02 December 2021

 

CLGF is working with local and central government partners in Botswana to help those involved in the informal economy to address the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses.

 

The impact of the pandemic has been even more devastating to the informal economy in the developing world. Many informal businesses have been unable to make any income during the mandatory social distancing measures to slow the transmission of COVID-19, this includes businesses that have been legally required to close.

 

In an effort to build back better together - post-pandemic, the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA), together with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Government, with support from CLGF, have been hosting a series of capacity building workshops to train those involved in the informal economy in more effective ways to recover. 

Impact of COVID-19 on the informal economy

The Government of Botswana introduced the Emergency (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020 which provided for the declaration of lockdown, restriction of movement of people, and the closure of facilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has spread around the world as a health crisis. However, it has also ushered in a global economic crisis with catastrophic effects on the informal economy. Botswana’s seven-week period of national lockdown resulted in the decreased domestic demand for goods and services.


Most activities such as public transport, street traders, hair salons, liquor stores and restaurants within the informal economy were paused, due to the inability of businesses to trade during this period. The informal economy bore the major brunt of the national lockdown, as staying at home and social distancing do not enable economic activity within this sector, as most of these businesses are dependent on sufficient footfall, or passing feet. The informal economy has never fully recovered from the national lockdown, and the spread of the new variant of the COVID-19 has also increased fears of strict lockdowns in the future.

Workshop subjects covered

To assist with this serious need to be able to revive business activities and the eocnomy, the first in a series of capacity building workshops was held in Jwaneng, Botswana from 29 to 30 November 2021. Subjects covered included:

 

  • record keeping, financial management and budgeting;
  • business management;
  • business expansion and diversification;
  • importance of cooperatives; and
  • the use of social media for marketing and advertising.

These workshops are a follow-up to the Informal Economy Dialogues held last year, which kicked-off discussions between local authorities and the informal economy to better enable support to this sector.

 

Ms Mpho Mfosi, Executive Assistant at BALA. said: “Out of all the sectors, this pandemic has affected the informal economy the most, and it is those working informally who need the training most. We are looking forward to expanding the training and also training other informal economy participants in other local authorities”.

Optimising digital solutions

The next workshops will be held in Selebi Phikwe and Chobe. CLGF's Southern Africa Project Officer, Ms Zimasa Vazi noted that: “In order to build better together post pandemic, it is important that we provide the required support to the informal economy to ensure it re-establishes itself. Furthermore, the adoption of digital solutions to optimise business operation is fundamental to ensure future success”.

 

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