Botswana: NGO Graduates Youth in Business Skills

Jwaneng — Tokafala, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in partnership with the Government of Botswana, Debswana, De Beers and Anglo American recently graduated a total of 32 youths following a three months core business skills training.

The youth, pooled from various villages graduated under a programme called Strengthening Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE).

Speakers at the event hailed the stakeholders for investing in the youth

One of the speakers, Member of Parliament for Jwaneng-Mabutsane, Mr Shawn Ntlhaile implored graduates to believe in themselves and their businesses, no matter how small.

He said research had proved that small and micro enterprises contributed immensely to the economy of the country because of their numeracy.

He also called on government to formulate a protective law for small businesses to complement the existing support.

"Support alone is not enough, we need a piece of legislature that protects small and upcoming businesses from being overpowered by bigger ones, especially foreign companies that are more established," he said.

Mr Ntlhaile also called on companies doing business in Jwaneng to assist especially the youth, saying it was wrong that though there were many companies doing business at Jwaneng mine, only a handful such as Debswana were willing to assist.

Chairperson of Jwaneng Chamber of Commerce, Mr Julius Sebako implored the graduates to consider working in partnership as it was harder to succeed as a standalone.

"Experience has shown that people can be more powerful as a unit than as individuals, so you must pool your resources together for a common purpose," he said.

He advised them to join Jwaneng Chamber of Commerce so that they can learn more from the experienced business people, and that the chamber had taken a decision that the youth should join at half the normal annual subscription.

In his word of support, Kgosi Justice Motlhalane of Sese advised graduates that life was a journey, and that one had to look to others to succeed, and that government also encouraged partnerships in business.

He also implored them to value the skills they had acquired and hailed Debswana for their constant trainings of the youth in various business skills.

"Skill is one of the best tools for business, and as parents we should also play a part by always encouraging our children to work hard and utilise any available government initiative," he said.

The graduates expressed appreciation of the training, saying it had opened their eyes on the true meaning of an entrepreneur. One Ms Gaopotlake Mokonopi indicated that prior to training, they lacked even the basics of business such as book-keeping.

She however, decried lack of land and places of operation as the main challenge that youth entrepreneurs face, saying most of them operate from rented premises whose owners can take back anytime.

She therefore plead with government to assist in that regard. After the graduation, all the 32 graduates will now move on to the aftercare phase of the programme that offers mentoring and coaching.

The STRYDE program is said to have already supported over 60 000 youth in East Africa and has been highly successful in raising youth incomes. Facilitators said they hope to replicate the success in Jwaneng through personal effectiveness and business skills trainings.

Source : BOPA

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