Gaborone — Twenty-year-old third year urban and regional planning University of Botswana student Ludo Ntshiwa is this year's University Challenge winner.
The Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and Development Bank of Southern Africa (UDBSA) initiative, with a lucrative prize of P350 000 (for females and P300 000 for males), is said to demonstrate government's commitment to empower the youth by providing seed capital and mentoring, to develop bankable and sustainable business ideas.
Speaking at the prize giving ceremony of the Challenge on Thursday night, Acting President, Mr Slumber Tsogwane said it was important to pursue such initiatives as they had the potential to contribute to the transformation of the economy.
Mr Tsogwane said the challenge did not only inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship, but encouraged innovation and creativity.
"The university challenge continues to grow in leaps and bounds. I'm told that there was overwhelming response to the call for participants for this year's challenge, where a total of 218 applications were received relative to 144 applications in 2018," he said.
He said the 218 individuals were inspired to do more outside their everyday lives by producing business proposals to participate in the challenge.
He said participation in the competition was testimony of commitment to develop solutions for challenges facing the economy, which would contribute towards national wealth.
Mr Tsogwane said the challenge was a stepping stone towards the CEDA vision of building an innovative and competitive small, medium and micro economic (SMME) sector.
"Government continues to develop policies and programmes to support the sector and render the necessary support to various institutions, which participate in the SMME sector ecosystem including CEDA," he added.
Mr Tsogwane said the National Entrepreneurship Policy, which was recently approved by government, recognised the need for coordination of efforts by all stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem including private sector, non-state sectors and development partners.
"Through initiatives that have been initiated by CEDA/DBSA, it is possible to realise a dream of owning a business.
However this must be coupled with dedication, commitment and hard work in order to succeed," he said.
He noted that the relationship between CEDA and DBSA would go a long way in realising the main objective of the region of achieving economic development, peace and security, growth, poverty eradication and supporting the socially disadvantaged through regional integration.
For his part, CEDA Chief Executive Officer Mr Thabo Thamane said through the challenge, CEDA intended to encourage active participation of youth in growing the economy.
Mr Thamane said the key theme of the challenge was for young people to come up with innovative solutions to issues of unemployment in the country, adding that the manufacturing industry had the largest potential for employment creation, with SMMEs in the lead.
He said the winner would be enrolled in entrepreneurship development training to provide them with the ability to recognise commercial opportunities and skills to enable them to better organise and manage their businesses.
He said in addition to the cash prize, the winner would be enrolled in the Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp (GEB) to be held in Bangkok in April.
Ms Ntshiwa's winning proposal plans to produce biomass briquettes from raw materials such as organic waste, industrial saw dust and agricultural waste.
CEDA chairperson, Dr
<i>Source : BOPA</i>