3 Mind-Blowing Facts About Doing Business In Botswana (#2 Is The Most Surprising!)

3 Mind-Blowing Facts About Doing Business In Botswana (#2 Is The Most Surprising!)

I will be honest with you, I did not know much about Botswana before I started providing business and market guidance here at Africa Business JumpStart, but it is a country that truly grows on me. There are indeed a handful of countries in Africa that simply continue to pleasantly surprise you and Botswana has to be one of them. Let’s dive straight into some mind-blowing facts about Botswana:

#1 Botswana strives towards becoming a regional financial capital

african business botswana

Yes, Botswana shares its borders with South Africa, which is a financial hub in Africa already, but Botswana has similar plans of its own. The government has made it clear that it strives towards becoming a well-respected regional financial capital and much is happening in this regard already. Leading Pan-African and international banks have recently moved into the country and financial service institutions are actively looking for Botswanan nationals in the Diaspora and other African Diasporans to fill competitive job positions in the financial services industry. I think this is important for you to know. If you are planning to invest or if you want to trade local products with foreign markets, those trends will make doing business in Botswana so much easier for you. And needless to say: if you are interested in starting a business in Africa’s fast growing financial sector, Botswana should certainly be on your list, too.

There are no foreign exchange controls in Botswana, something many states in Africa are unable to implement thus far. Foreign currency-denominated accounts are permitted and at present, commercial banks offer accounts in U.S. Dollars, British Pounds, Euros and South African Rand. Oh yes, and Botswana is one of the few countries in Africa that have a stock exchange, the BSE. Foreigners can hold shares in BSE-listed Botswana companies, which gives you also increased exit options when you invest in listed companies!

#2 Botswana is at the top of the list as ‘Best Country to Invest in’ – In Africa? No, in the WORLD!

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I mean, this is amazing! The Foreign Policy Magazine presents a Baseline Profitability Index (BPI) 2014 titled ‘Where to invest around the world’. The BPI brings together eight factors to predict the total pre-tax return investors might expect in countries around the world, they are: economic growth, financial stability, physical security, corruption, expropriation by government, exploitation by local partners, capital controls, and exchange rates. In each case, the author estimated how likely a given factor was to affect an investment, and then how costly the effect might be. Now here is what is absolutely amazing: Botswana has come out as the best place in the world to invest in for the second year in a row! Ahead of markets like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Qatar! And hey, what is overall such a great investment destination is surely also a great potential business destination for you!

Africa business best country
#3 Botswana has the least corruption in Africa

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Frankly, corruption is one of the greatest obstacles towards the creation of healthy socio-economic environments in Africa and the presence of corrupt systems has halted the progress of both economic and democratic growth. Maybe, the issue of corruption and slow progress is something that particularly worries you. I suggest you demonstrate flexibility in this case: because, ranked number one in Africa on Transparency International’s anti-corruption index Botswana is at the top of the list for the lowest level of corruption on the continent and it also got the third place for ‘best governance’ (that latter one was rated by the Mo Ibrahim Index of good governance, 2014). Overall, Botswana is rated as a stable and democratic country. Well, all of that surely goes a long, long way when doing business in Africa.

Many of you are still not sure in what kind of business to engage or invest in and which country in Africa to choose as a favorable business destination to get started. I have mentioned in previous articles that the sequence of your decision making process should preferably be: choose your sector first and then choose the ideal market (country or region) for your sector of choice. However, if you are driven by other factors that are of key importance to your decision making process – such as security for example – you can also start by choosing the country first and then look into the sectors and niches that do well in this particular country. It will confine you somewhat in the choices you have, but in a case like Botswana, the benefits you gain may simply outweigh such limitations. To find out which industries would be perfect for a Botswana-start up, I suggest you visit our Featured Countries page ‘Botswana’.

So, what do you think about Botswana or do you rather stick with other choices you made? We look forward to your feedback and suggestions in the comment section below! And we particularly welcome any insights from those who actually are in Botswana!

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Dr. Harnet
Dr. Harnet Bokrezion is the Founder of africajumpstart.com and co-author of the book '101 Ways to Make Money in Africa'. She coaches individuals and consults existing companies assisting them to make smart and strategic business decisions in Africa’s new emerging markets faster and more confidently. Dr. Harnet also regularly writes for the renowned DHL powered publication howwemadeitinafrica.com. Get in touch to inquire how she can be of assistance to your own Africa business endeavors: harnet@africajumpstart.com

User Comments ( 27 )

  • Dr. Harnet

    Oh, someone just re-tweeted me and asked me to add: “Botswana ranks highest in sovereign credit rating in Africa; Thanks for the note!

  • Rapahel

    I would like to know about updates for fresh graduates in electrical and electronics engineering

    • Dr. Harnet

      Hi Raphael, thanks for stopping by. Engineering at large is a profession and skill that is widely sought after in Africa right now, much is coupled closely to the housing, construction and industrial growth in many countries. Are you looking for something in your country – where are you based? Tanzania is facing a huge shortage of engineers right now, but I am sure there is a similar situation in several countries. One way to proceed would be looking for a job, or even better you could consider opening your own company after maybe having done some work or free internship somewhere.

  • prety good read. Thanks for sharing 🙂 i feel proud reading this

    • Dr. Harnet

      Hi Ckeid, yes, it does make one certainly hopeful. We need countries in Africa that head in the right direction and lead by example, so other states will follow. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Hong Kong is not a country….

    • Dr. Harnet

      Thanks for the note, Anon, and you are right. It’s a Special Administrative Region, which acts independently. Comparing Botswana to the ‘market’ Hong Kong is more appropriate.

  • Bk

    so much praise showered about my country, but in actual fact its more different when you inside and pretty much worse as a local. fresh from university now been a year without a job, scary stituation because am afraid i might get old before i get a decent job…just today when i did a lil research about insurance industry and got a shock of my life when i was told i got to have something to the amout of 2 million in da bank to start up this…….

    • Dr. Harnet

      Thank you, Bk, for sharing these insights. I absolutely agree, the economic growth stories of South Africa, Botswana, or Nigeria as Africa’s fastest growing economy do not represent the many, many obstacles Africa faces on the ground. Poverty and increasing job shortage are just two of them and effecting each country. But you will find these even in the US, Europe, or China – having said that, countries in Africa – including Botswana of course still have a long way to go and no-one knows that best than those living every day there. I think looking into entrepreneurship is a good alternative to trying to get into a poor job market…don’t give up on that, find ways that work for you in Botswana. Maybe look up Heshan de Silva (Kenya) who started an incredible successful insurance business Safarisure with reportedly just over $100 – he has been featured across media, and his insurance tickets where coupled with bus tickets for traveling outside of Nairobi. I have written some blog post in the ‘Overcome Obstacles’ section about starting a business in Africa with very little or no capital and have featured entrepreneurs who have done that, for example here:


      I also share a range of Africa business niches and strategies for increased success throughout my blog. Hope this may help and inspire you, and once you have a clear plan for a business, Botswana a good places in Africa to follow this through. Thanks again, BK, and wishing you all the best!

  • Ur

    The pictures in the article are not of Botswana! Why??

    • Dr. Harnet

      Thanks for your question, Ur – you got this right. To be honest, this was simply my attempt to be a bit creative and find a picture that brings greater emphasis to the three titles in a more abstract way. I have written about Botswana a few times before and used the local images in my blog…..my challenge is that there are not too many quality images available for certain cities or the topic ‘business’ in Africa and that means they become repetitive – so I tried to keep the visionary part……, well, ‘interesting’. Not sure I delivered this time around, so I take your comment on board.

  • Fern

    I believe a lot is hidden to the outside world is all I can say! The silver lining is a bit grey if you look closely!

    • Dr. Harnet

      Thanks for that, Fern, and I hear you. This post here is a view of the developments that happen more at macro level and the example of Botswana and other countries give us a lot of hope that many countries in Africa are finally heading towards the right path even if that journey will still be bumpy. So it is an article that deliberately focused on the attractive developments that will most certainly influence our African businesses (and our self- confidence and outlook as Africans !) very positively. But I absolutely agree that there are always shades of grey when you start scratching.

  • Botho naomi dijeng

    wow,this amazingly good news,specially number two,its really encouraging to know that our country is growing and that it carries so much potential…#inspired to do more and dream more as a motswana

  • Teebs

    Wow! If Botswana’s got the least corruption in Africa, then it must be REALLY bad in the rest of Africa! Corruption is rife in Botswana, especially since the Chinese arrived here. There is hardly a sphere where you don’t come across corruption on a daily basis – construction, tenders, government departments, police officers. everybody that can do something for you wants a bribe!

    • Kayci haebler

      If Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa, I cant imagine how bad corruption is in other countries.

      Otherwise it is a nice inspiring piece, there is hope!


    Is Health Economics a recognized profession in Botswana? how many Health Economics graduates find good jobs locally

  • Hidan

    As a small business owner in Botswana this report is very hyped up. Doing business in Botswana is great if you a multinational. only.

    There are local graduates by the thousands who dont have jobs, the government policies make it extremely difficult for foreeign owned small to medium enterprises to be competitive as they greatly favour locally owned businesses.

    As to corruption, no comment, just read the local papers. in recent years it is getting worse along with the rule of law.

    Great place if you on par with Chevron Texaco or DeBeers Diamond Company not private investor or my-small-business.com.

  • Dr. Harnet

    Thank you all for your great and valid comments all coming from those working in Botswana already. I learned a lot from it.

    Having said that, the index listings above are also used as references on government sites, embassies, and development agencies. These listings are the result of carefully researched indicators, so as many of you have suggested, corruption is sadly probably even worse elsewhere in Africa otherwise Botswana would not have made it to the top. Or it has recently deteriorated…

    At the end of the day, we all need to put things into perspective….even the US and Germany as some of the strongest economies in this world have poverty and millions of jobless….and most small businesses don’t make it, but the macro-outlook is still a strong case for an overall better business climate than you may find in Chile or Poland for example. So such index information (that can never take the details on board as it is simply a listing) is still helpful if you want to quickly grasp a market and compare that to other options. Of course, you will still need to get to know your market in real terms.

    But I do understand that some balance is important, otherwise I may risk for such articles to sound too much like an illusion when the reality in the case above is that many businesses and entrepreneurs in Botswana still struggle. I will absolutely take that on board, and thanks again for all the great feedback, it will help me to do a better job! Especially because I seek to support foremost emerging African entrepreneurs (both in the Diaspora & on the continent) with my blog here.

  • Michelle

    I live in Botswana and love it. It’s just a pity that as an investor who has been living here for 10 years I still have to struggle to renew my work permit which is renewed every 5 years 🙁 I can understand that the government wants to empower the locals, but in certain industries we are unable to find skilled locals and struggle to get work permits for skilled foreigners.

  • What opportunities exist in the restaurant and hospitality space?

    • Teebs

      Not much, sorry to say. It’s virtually impossible to get a work permit unless no qualified citizens apply. If you have unique skills or qualifications you should find something. Starting your own thing is easier, if you have some money.

      • Fred

        what opportunities are there in the IT sector?

        • Dr. Harnet

          Hi Fred, thanks for your questions. Botswana has a clear agenda to become a regional financial capital and I think if you focus on the IT sector in the financial service industry there are many opportunities, I would advice into looking at that. Further business 2 business services – and on both counts CRM (customer service provision through IT systems and software). Hope this helps!

  • John

    what are the chances of starting an aviation academy in botswana

  • John

    what are the possibilities of importing medical consumables and supplying in Botswana

  • Abdussalam

    I,m Engineer from Libya interested to start small business in Botswana, i have good experience in the field of engineering and construction.
    what is the opportunity in the field of Engineering and construction., what is about skilled human resources and licenses to export these resources. Also what is the minimum capital that i should have to start small business investment.