Shashe Mooke — Thirty-four-year old Ms Boitumelo Samson of Shashe Mooke has done what many beneficiaries of the Youth Development Fund (YDF) fail to do - clearing the loan amount of the funding.
It is mandatory that every YDF beneficiary re-pay half the amount they have been assisted with and Ms Samson did not disappoint in terms of complying with the set terms of servicing the loan she was granted to set up her dressmaking business in Shashe Mooke.
In an interview with BOPA recently, she said she clearly understood that YDF assistance was meant to be rotational in that when a beneficiary re-payed the loan portion, it was given to another aspiring entrepreneur.
She said in 2013, she received P75 000 to kick-start her dress- making business, half of which was a grant and the other half, a loan.
The loan was to be serviced over a five-year period at P660 per month.
Interestingly, Ms Samson managed to pay back the loan nine months before the stipulated time.
"I was expected to pay back half of the amount I was assisted with over a period of five years.
I managed to pay it all and my last payment was early this year in March," she said, noting that she had until December this year to clear the loan.
Ms Samson said the zeal to have a clean record as well as gaining trust among Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development officials and other relevant stakeholders propelled her to work tirelessly to pay off the loan.
She noted that unemployment challenges among the youth was not a joke, she said it would be inappropriate for her to benefit and deny fellow youth the chance to try their luck at business.
Ms Samson noted that although she had succeeded in paying back her loan, it was not an easy sailing.
Upon starting her project, she was given a three-month grace period during which all profit made was strictly for saving.
Thereafter she never struggled since the business was doing well, but later profit margins became unstable forcing her to miss payments for some months.
Ms Samson said missing payments gave her sleepless nights as she felt she was doing youth on the waiting list an injustice.
She then came up with a plan.
Instead of restricting herself to the stipulated P660, she doubled the amount whenever the business performed well.
"Whenever the business was on the peak, I would pay more than what was expected, sometimes I paid up to P2 500 in a month so as to cover up more months as much as I could and this gave me a relief," she proudly pointed out.
She explained that she was also driven by her parents who always pushed her to thrive in her business despite the challenges she may be experiencing.
Now that she is loan free, each profit made is solely used for her economic empowerment and other activities that could help the business grow.
Meanwhile, Ms Samson revealed that she settled for dressmaking because she was passionate about it from a tender age.
"Upon completion of BGCSE examination, I went for a dressmaking course at Ramatea Vocational Training Centre in Kanye, where I studied the concepts of dressmaking," she said.
From there, she landed jobs with several textile firms, but later decided to stand on her own and become her own boss.
She enrolled for a certificate course in dressmaking, 2006 and 2008 she advanced from Trade C to Trade B respectively.
Two years later she completed her National Craft Certificate (NCC) in dressmaking
Receiving YDF assistance was almost the icing on top and all she had to do was to make her project a success.
"Although I received funding towards the end of 2013, I started operating in early 2014 due to the fact that I had to attend several short business training courses organised by the funding ministry," she said.
She said the training was fruitful because it covered mainly business management and bookkeeping, among others.
Ms Samson currently operates from home and she is satisfied with the arrangement because she does not incur any rental costs.
She said she did not rely on orders, but designs and stock piles different clothing items and on month ends moves from house to house and even to the Francistown Bus Rank selling them.
Ms Samson said her business was flourishing, noting that the strategic location of her home village also boosted her profit margins.
"Shashe Mooke is strategically positioned as we are between villages of Borolong, Tonota and the surrounding areas," she said.
Tarred roads connecting the village to neighbouring villages also made access to market relatively easy and cheap, she said.
Source : BOPA