Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, (MYESCD) has partnered with the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) to create a pool of competitive and sustainable youth businesses.
Through the partnership, business management and mentoring services will be provided to the Youth Development Fund (YDF) beneficiaries to enhance their efficiency and capacity to manage and sustain their businesses.Speaking during the signing ceremony MYESCD Deputy Permanent Secretary, Kago Ramokate said the ministry has always had a challenge with lack of expertise mentorship to young entrepreneurs so partnership with LEA will assist the ministry to effectively deliver its mandate.
“Training and mentorship has been a challenge for us because our officers mostly do not have business background so this partnership will address this,” said Ramokate.In his remarks, LEA Chief Executive, Racious Moatshe said the partnership is paramount to achieve government initiative of creating a pool of competitive and sustainable Small Medium and Micro Enterprises that will significantly contribute towards the diversification of the economy. It is also expected to meaningfully impact local communities through employment creation and import substitution.
“We want to ensure that youth businesses are run properly with proper funding. Both institutions will jointly conduct research that has direct impact on scaling up of youth owned businesses in Botswana,” said Moatshe.
He said over 2 500 youth businesses have received LEA intervention. “We want to see more youth businesses succeed”. Meanwhile, the ministry has been urged to come up with a better strategy to effectively deliver the YDF program and produce successful youth businesses. According to the Auditor General’s report for the past year, Pulane Letebele pointed out that the operation of the fund was highly unsatisfactory because of lack of proper monitoring and mentoring of the beneficiaries, financed from the Fund on a 50 percent grant 50 percent loan basis.
The Auditor General complained that two years after the Public Accounts Committee called for a stream lining of the Fund’s accounting system to allow for proper debtor accounting, nothing has been done.The 2015 Auditor General’s report has revealed that all five regions that had been selected for audits during the year show that the fund has failed. “In Maun about P20 million was disbursed in loans and only P400 000 has been paid while P640 000 was the total of arrears covering the entire period from inception of the fund in 2009,” reads the report.
Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft
Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.
Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.
There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”
The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”
During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.
Calls to improve crop yields with technology
Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.
Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.
Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.
She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.
Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.
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