Thursday 2023-02-09




By SIFISO NHLABATSI | 2022-11-28

The European Union (EU), the International Trade Centre (ITC), and government are working closely to assist institutions that support micro, small and medium businesses (MSMEs) to keep up to speed on corporate governance best practices.

This is part of the EU-funded ITC-Alliances for Action ‘Eswatini: Promoting growth through competitive alliances’ project whose main objective is to support job creation for small farmers, entrepreneurs, and artisans. It also seeks to promote export-led growth, especially through the full utilisation of the Southern African Development Community-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (SADC-EU EPA).

Professor Owen Skae, a corporate governance expert from ITC, led a two-day corporate governance training to reinforce the service delivery of Eswatini’s relevant institutions. The objective was to increase their capacity to support MSMEs, boost job creation and contribute to sustainable growth.

Six institutions participated in the training; these were Business Eswatini (BE), Eswatini Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (ESWADE), Small Enterprises Development Company (SEDCO), Hotel and Tourism Association of Eswatini (HOTAES), Eswatini Association of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (ESASCCO), and Eswatini Multi-Purpose Cooperative Union (ESWAMCU).

Professor Skae explained the pillars of effective corporate governance and ethical leadership using a combination of case studies, practical exercises, group activities, and discussions. He also provided in-depth coverage of the King IV Corporate Governance framework, specifically its outcomes, principles and practices.

The training content did not just skim the surface, it dug deep into fiduciary, ethical, and moral obligations; roles and responsibilities of governing body members; the six capitals framework (financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, social and relationship, and natural); role, structure, and composition of governing body committees; risk management and applying the three lines of defense model; and other key concepts such as independence and managing conflict of interest.

Business Eswatini’s Head of Legal Affairs Nozipho Msibi said she had attended multiple trainings on corporate governance before, but the one she hosted by EU, ITC and government was different because it looked at corporate governance through a local lens. “I feel equipped to make better decisions that will ensure the sustainability of our organisation, control risks and assure compliance,” she stated

SEDCO Chief Executive Officer, Khethiwe Mhlanga, said what was key for them going forward was to move to integrated reporting that caters to all the different six capitals that they learned about in the training, to avoid the mistake of focusing on financial capital only.

HOTAES Executive Member, Daniel Bushu, reported feeling greater accountability as a board member, and greater ownership of objectives.

“I realised that being a board member means I have to speak out for the interest of our institution. I have to speak out for what is right and do the same for what is wrong and uphold integrity. If we can apply what we have learned here, Eswatini can thrive,” he shared.

The EU Programme Officer for Private Sector Development, Business Climate and Sustainable Inclusive Growth, Luis Miguel Pascoal, was also present.

He highlighted the importance of effective and ethical corporate governance for the Kingdom of Eswatini in its quest to grow sustainably and in the long-term.

he said such trainings would help equip Eswatini’s sustainable businesses to make full use of available market opportunities, like the EU common market through the SADC-EU EPA or the African Continental Free Trade Area.

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