S-GE is a discreet but extremely effective network. Even though it has an international presence, it remains very human in scale. As for the approach, it is not administrative, but focused on providing practical and effective assistance..
Why did you decide to explore the Botswana market?
From the very start, Studer Innotec has done most of its business abroad. We are already present in Africa – particularly in South Africa, which borders Botswana. But with a population of 2.3 million and an area 14 times the size of Switzerland, Botswana is also a potentially very favorable market for the development of “off-grid” electricity solutions – that is to say, those that are not connected to the grid – that match the expertise we have acquired over time. Although the country has plenty of sunshine, its electricity infrastructure is far from meeting all its needs. In this context, Alain Berset's presidential visit and the many meetings that took place in parallel were an excellent opportunity for us to make our first contacts on the ground.
What did you learn from being on the ground that you didn’t know beforehand?
The incredibly high number of potential sites for off-grid solutions. Botswana is a prime example of a country where Studer Innotec can offer solutions that are efficient, environmentally friendly, economically attractive and can be deployed very quickly.t.
How did you work with S-GE?
First of all, we had two conference calls with Stéphanie Labité and Simone Malz Coetzer from the Swiss Business Hub Southern Africa to set out the objectives of our visit to Botswana. Their travel agency then organized our trip down to the last detail, which meant we were able to make full use of the two days we spent there. I met lots of local business leaders and potential partners, as well as ambassadors and university deans, at events such as presidential dinners, business lunches and forums. I have to say that it was a complete success and I can only thank S-GE for their effective and enjoyable collaboration!
What were the main challenges and how did you overcome them?
For a Swiss SME such as ours, being able to meet reliable potential partners and build relationships with universities and local authorities is the ideal scenario. However, without prior contacts on the ground, it is a daunting task to break into such a market. Hence the value for us in collaborating with S-GE and its branch, the Swiss Business Hub Southern Africa, which are particularly well established and able to open many doors in this region.
What advice do you have for Swiss SMEs considering entering this particular market or new markets in general?
To avoid wasting time, it is essential to have effective and reliable contacts on the ground. If the company already has a strong local network, then it can start on its own. Otherwise, seeking support from S-GE means the company can benefit from quick access to the right contacts and from the credibility and legitimacy of an organization that works with senior Swiss officials. This relationship with S-GE greatly helped us to establish ourselves successfully in the USA and Australia in particular.
Bastien Bovy, Consultant EMEA, Switzerland Global Enterprise:
With its presence in Switzerland and its numerous representative offices around the world, Switzerland Global Enterprise supports you throughout your internationalization process. We can, for example, offer you a platform for promoting your company and showcasing your products and services at specific events or official missions, enabling you to present yourself and meet the main local decision-makers in your industry. We would love to meet you.