As part of the company’s P24 million contribution towards the COVID-19 response, Debswana Diamond Company has committed P5 million towards the production of 250,000 re-usable cotton masks in Botswana.
The COVID-19 masks will be distributed to law enforcement officers, as well as other essential services workers and communities around Debswana operations to ensure their continued protection.
Additional funding has been provided to produce 24,000 masks for Debswana employees and contractors. Production of masks for employees and contractors has already commenced.
In making this commitment, Debswana has made an important consideration of ensuring that the masks are produced by local enterprises, particularly Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), to assist Government of Botswana in sustaining local micro economic activity during the current lockdown.
In order to ensure a well-structured and conscientious response, the company has been proactively engaging stakeholders at its host communities of Jwaneng-Mabutsane and Boteti sub-districts, as well as at national level, to identify critical prevention, response initiatives and further formulate strategic partnerships.
Some of the stakeholders engaged are the District Disaster Management Committees (DDMC), District Health Management Teams (DHMT), National Emergency Operation Centre, Ministry of Health and Wellness, community leadership, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), development agencies, Parastatals and other stakeholders.
Amongst considerations made, is the need to ensure that the masks are produced locally by citizen entities and in line with requisite health specifications and standards.
As a result, Debswana found it important to leverage the skills and resources of the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), and through them, identify skilled Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) to produce the masks at the requisite standards under their supervision.
Through the LEA partnership, support of Debswana’s internal occupational hygiene and safety experts, Debswana assures quality of the masks production process whilst at the same time fulfilling its citizen economic empowerment objectives.
Through this partnership, LEA has identified suitable enterprises with capacity to produce the face masks. Debswana found it important to include tailors from host communities of Boteti and Jwaneng -Mabutshane sub-distrits; those registered as Debswana suppliers; as well as Tokafala and Strengthening Youth Development through Entrerpise (STRYDE) graduates.
LEA is responsible for providing business coaching and mentorship services during production while observing social distancing protocols, to ensure that the producers comply with the specifications and expected product quality.
Furthermore, LEA and Debswana’s Social Performance teams will manage the production turnaround times and ensure adherence to the work plans.
The Authority will also coordinate the collection and delivery of the face masks from all the identified 58 producers to Debswana.
Upon successful completion of the project, LEA will facilitate the payment process between Debswana and the SMMEs, to ensure swift payment for the orders as allocated amongst the producers.
The Acting MD of Debswana, Lynette Armstrong says:
“As we continue to deal with the challenges presented by this pandemic, we must never lose sight of our core obligations and commitment towards our long-term strategy for socio-economic development, Corporate Social Investment and Citizen Economic Empowerment.
“Even as we unite with the nation and the world at large to fight this pandemic, we continue to effectively implement this strategy thus playing our part as a responsible corporate citizen.
“We always aim to support the realization of our Vision 2036 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). We strongly believe in achieving productivity through partnerships and collaborative efforts such as the one we have with LEA, which we have had for some time now as our partners in implementing our Citizen Economic Empowerment programme.
“I wish to thank LEA profoundly for coming on board to deliver this. We will continue to explore similar partnerships for more efficiencies as we roll out our COVID-19 response plans.”
In acknowledgement of the partnership, LEA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Racious Moatshe, says:
“The Local Enterprise Authority continues to develop strategic partnerships that enhance entrepreneurship and SMME development in Botswana. Collaboration with Debswana is a step in the right direction as it unlocks market access potential and presents an opportunity for SMMEs to innovate, manufacture and supply the mines.
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“We commit to nurture entrepreneurs and build their capacity across all sectors of the economy, to produce market acceptable products that can also meet export requirements.
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“Beyond the current supply of the face masks for COVID 19 period, we will continue to engage with Debswana as we do with other stakeholders, to collectively explore impactful initiatives to further advance the SMME sector.”