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Local Universities advised to partner with businesses

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Botswana universities and colleges have been challenged to forge business partnerships with local businesses. Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Chief Executive Parminder Vir Obe was in Botswana last week where she urged institutions of higher learning in the country to form relationships with businesses and share knowledge of common interest. She stated that lot of big businesses and corporations sometimes stop innovating and it is the young entrepreneurs and university graduates who can see gaps in the industry and proffer solutions.

“Entrepreneurs need those business solutions and the universities should use those leverages and power,” she said while addressing entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the SME ecosystem at the University of Botswana. “I have seen it (partnerships) in the United Kingdom (UK) where I have lived and worked. It’s there as well in the United States (US) and India and universities are important hubs and are becoming an important asset in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Vir OBE whose organisation was established in 2010. TEF is the leading philanthropy organisation in Africa championing entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs across the continent. University of Botswana management lecturer, Dr Gaofetoge Ganamotse, said students in Botswana are struggling to embrace the entrepreneurship drive. Dr Ganamotse graduate unemployment can only be addressed through engaging entrepreneurial activities.

She stated that there is need to come up with initiatives that could encourage people to think about entrepreneurship as an alternative career. Dr Ganamotse added that there is need to provide policies that will encourage people to venture into entrepreneurship programmes. “We should inculcate the entrepreneurship mindset from as low as primary education up to the tertiary level. Entrepreneurship education should not be for one faculty or programme but should be for all the courses,” said the UB official. She said UB has already introduced a number of courses in entrepreneurship up to Master’s level. Dr Ganamotse expressed interest in partnering with TEF and do more entrepreneurship research. The Foundation’s flagship initiative, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, is a 10-year, $100 million commitment to identify, train mentor and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs, capable of changing the face of business across Africa.

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‘Manufacturing holds key to economic growth’

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Barclays bank’s economist Naledi Madala has urged the country to consider manufacturing, as a key tailwind to drive the economy and reduce inequality.

She was speaking at a gathering organised by the bank which focused on economic outlook for 2019. “We should not make a mistake of leapfrogging without manufacturing,” said Madala, lamenting that the country’s diversification remains a pipeline dream, as the diamond is still the economy’s mainstay. She bemoaned that mining activities in the country could not spring forward diversification, though non-mining GDP has been steady over the years.

“Extractive industries are not good stepping stones for diversification, the sector does not prepare us for the next step,” said Madala at the Barclays’ Economic Outlook Forum Review 2019. The economist further noted that government should confront head-on challenges of productivity and competitiveness to attract the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Though diversification efforts continue to hit a brick wall, Madala said the country should expect increased activities in the mining sector hinged to ramp up in coal production in the year ahead.

She also implored government to consider a welcoming attitude towards foreign investors and generous tax incentives to businesses that set up in the country. Madala is also upbeat that the use of public private partnership model could also help diversify the economy coupled with privitisation. “Privitisation will offer opportunities for growth, through the renewed optimism from government, as business confidence has improved,” said Madala.

She implored the government and the business community to access what is going to drive and hinder growth highlighting that key headwinds to growth are income inequality, diversification challenge and productivity, among others. “The pace of poverty reduction has slowed down, while income inequality goes up,” said Madala

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MINISTER BEWAILS BAD REPAYMENT BY YOUTH

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama has told parliament his ministry continues to face challenges on the repayment of Youth Development Fund (YDF) loans.

Recently presenting the budget to Parliament, Khama said this financial year the ministry has received a total of 2582 YDF applications and approved 983of them to the value of P98 million. He said the programme attracts a high level of interest from youth but the ministry is only limited to funding a maximum of 1200 youth projects annually due to budget limitations.

“However the greatest challenge for the Fund is the repayment of the loan component by the majority of the youth businesses. The youth have advanced number of challenges for this including high rentals for operating spaces, low market access owing to tight competition and limited production capacities,” said Tshekedi, adding that they continue to pursue beneficiaries to repay the loans.

Out of the 919 businesses funded 1058 jobs have been created. The minister highlighted that disbursements of funds will continue to be undertaken until the end of the financial year. “The YDF is currently under review in line with the pronouncement made by the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi in the State of the Nation Address, to improve beneficiaries through training, and encourage consortia and cooperatives,” said Tshekedi.

The ministry assists YDF beneficiaries in marketing their products and services through fairs and exhibitions. The ministry also runs entrepreneurship-training seminars for youth and in the past year 3692 young people were trained. Over 600 youth businesses attended fairs and exhibitions to market their products and services. Currently the ministry is collaborating with Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), First National Bank Botswana and Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) on training in entrepreneurship development and mentorship of YDF beneficiaries.

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