By Inside Biz
The European Union (EU), the International Trade Centre (ITC), and the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini 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 utilization 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.
The ITC is a joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transitioning economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Six institutions participated in the training: 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, stated: “I’ve attended multiple pieces of training on corporate governance before, but this one was different because we looked at corporate governance through a local lens – context is crucial. I feel equipped to make better decisions that will ensure the sustainability of our organization, control risks, and assure compliance.”
On the other hand, SEDCO Chief Executive Officer, Khethiwe Mhlanga, said: “I walk away with new information. What is key for us going forward is to move to integrated reporting that caters to all the different six capitals that we 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 realized 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.
“Pieces of training such as these will 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,” he said.