Botswana home to new USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub
Tomorrow US Ambassador to Botswana Earl Miller will preside over the official opening ceremony of the new Botswana office of the USAID (US Agency for International Development) Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub.
The key objectives of the USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub are to increase international competitiveness, intra-regional trade and food security in Southern Africa.
Despite major gains in trade and market expansion, however, countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) still face significant obstacles to sustained economic growth.
Many member states lack the physical infrastructure along with trade and investment policies to capitalise upon these trade agreements.
In addition, cumbersome export/import procedures, high transportation costs, and preferential trade regimes all hinder investment and reduce productivity while negatively affecting the region’s economy, food security, livelihoods, and public health.
The Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub, funded by USAID, will work to address these barriers and support Southern Africa to create a well-integrated regional economy that delivers tangible economic benefits and improved food security for the people of the region through increased global competitiveness, trade, and investment.
The USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub is the fourth generation of USAID projects focused on these goals.
The previous version of the Southern Africa Trade Hub made many contributions on behalf of the US Government to develop growth sectors including agribusiness, food processing, textiles and apparel, and infrastructure in Botswana and the entire SADC region.
The new Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub will continue to work closely with the Government of Botswana and in particular the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry to break down barriers to trade to increase exports, achieve regional economic integration, increase uptake in utilisation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act by Botswana businesses, improve productivity, and facilitate robust regional trade and global market access.
The USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub reflects the American people’s commitment to support communities across Southern Africa, helping to ensure that the population of Botswana and countries throughout the region are provided with economic opportunities to build themselves better lives.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.