The vast majority of U.S. products sold in Botswana enter as re-exports from South Africa. Many U.S. companies maintain regional distributorships in South Africa, which supply the rest of the SADC region.
Using an Agent or Distributor
U.S. companies looking for assistance in finding a Botswana agent or distributor are advised to contact Business Botswana and the American Business Council in Botswana (ABC). Business Botswana has more than 2,000 member companies and is the largest private sector association in the country. Its membership directory is not available online, but the Economic/Commercial Section of the U.S. Embassy can provide a hard copy (mailto: CommercialGabs@state.gov). The American Business Council has about 50 members and represents private companies and individuals interested in doing business with the United States. The ABC has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to work together to foster an enabling environment for U.S. businesses in Botswana.
The U.S. Commercial Service’s International Partner Search program also provides partner search services, for a fee. Partner search services for Botswana are available through the U.S. Embassy Botswana website (https://bw.usembassy.gov).
Establishing an Office
Companies interested in investing in Botswana should contact the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), the GoB agency charged with assisting foreign investors in setting up operations:
Botswana Investment and Trade Centre:
Tel: +267 363 3300 / +267 71319250
Company formation and registration in Botswana is relatively straightforward and can be done online through Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA)’s Online Business Registration System (OBRS).
All companies doing business in Botswana must register with the Registrar of Companies. Registration typically takes 24 hours; it is common for an investor to engage a local attorney to assist. A list of local attorneys who practice in this area can be obtained from the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section (https://bw.usembassy.gov).
Although most franchises in Botswana are from South Africa, a few U.S. franchises operate in Botswana including Federal Express, Coca-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Hilton, Marriott, Avis, RE/MAX realtors, and others.
Registering a franchise follows the same procedures as registering a company and must be done with the Registrar of Companies. Depending on the type of business, the government may also require a license issued either by the city council or the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Direct Marketing is common and widely used by local companies. It is considered to be the most effective form of marketing. The most common forms of direct marketing in Botswana are text messaging, pamphlets and brochures (delivered by hand or mail), internet (through email and social media), radio and television promotions, and salesperson visits.
Joint ventures between local and foreign partners are common and are encouraged, especially where the foreign partner brings production or design expertise and marketing ties. Investors looking for partners can contact the U.S. Embassy or BITC.
Express delivery of products is available and reliable throughout the country, delivering within 24 hours. Most of the express companies operate internationally so it is easy to do business and interact with international companies. Some of the express delivery companies operating are DHL, FedEx, Botswana Couriers & Logistics, Express Mail Service (Operated by Botswana Post), and Sprint Couriers.
It is advisable for foreign companies to perform due diligence on their business partners or agents. The U.S. Embassy provides partial International Company Profile (ICP) services.