On Friday December 16, 2011, the Round Table Africa Agenda on Sustainable Business Development in East and Southern Africa was officially presented as the outcome of the two days international sustainable business event at the Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, Tanzania. This agenda, which outlines actions for government, private sector, donors, NGOs, education and research, and financing institutes, makes a plea for cooperation between all parties to become more competitive and innovative, and in togetherness to stimulate a knowledge-based business culture of sustainability.
The Round Table Africa 2011 Sustainable Business Event, in which more than 120 people participated, was officially opened by Mr. Lazaro Nyarandu, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Tanzania. He applauded Round Table Africa for the initiative to bring together government, private sector, knowledge institutes, and business associations from the tourism, agricultural and mining sector from within the East African Community. Other keynotes were addressed by Dr. Ad Koekkoek, the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Tanzania, Dr. Ludovico Alcorta from UNIDO, and Mr. Kenneth Bagamuhunda from the East African Community, EAC.
The Round Table Africa Agenda on Sustainable Business Development calls upon governments to make sure that sustainable business is developed in the interest of the country, to become stricter in enforcing standards but to keep in mind which implications government policies may have for entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs are tasked to be innovative in order to be competitive, not to compromise on investments on Research and Development, to better work together through private sector associations, and to be active participants in (sector-specific) multi-sector partnerships, so called Round Tables.
When it comes to donors and NGOs, the agenda stresses the need to focus on the analysis of the business environment and on capacity building. A cluster-development approach should be considered in which finance, research, education, infrastructure and policy are integral linked.
In the understanding of the importance of good research and education, the agenda calls upon knowledge institutes to work more closely together with policy makers in the selection of clusters and value chains to be researched. Also, cooperation is to be improved with the private sector through associations and also by linking up with small and bigger companies to get a better understand of the business dynamics. In education, focus should be more on innovative processes with technical students, provision for incubation units within universities, and training of students and faculty to do cluster and value chain research.
The tasks for the financial institutes are according to the sustainable business agenda to cater for small and medium size companies (the so-called missing middle), to think of establishing guarantee schemes for selective but potentially sound sustainable sectors, and to target specific sectors in order to become more knowledgeable on that sector. This could result in a special window for tourism, mining or agri/horticulture.
About the organisers
The Sustainable Business Event was organized by Round Table Africa. Round Table Africa is an initiative of Maastricht School of Management (MsM) and the Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute (ESAMI). It stimulates expertise development in the area of sustainable business in Southern and Eastern Africa, and aims to achieve a structural collaboration between international businesses, local companies and policy-makers.
More information on the agenda on sustainable business and the conference can be obtained on www.roundtableafricaconference.org.