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VCF hosts farming conference

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Value Chain Farming (VCF) Africa-Botswana which runs VCF, a market driven contract farming initiative that seeks to support the commercialisation of small scale farmers, will host a three-day conference from February 1 to 3 at Ave Marie Conference Centre. The initiative focuses on provision of skills, advanced agricultural technology, financing frameworks and infrastructure development. Managing Director Tshepiso Ntshobotho says the inaugural conference will provide information on emerging external trends and current issues that impact the future of the agriculture industry.

VCF Africa – Botswana is an Agribusiness Consortium of two Italian companies, BEXA Consulting, Private Department of Agriculture Food Energy and Environmental Studies (DAFEES) and Longreach International (Pty) Ltd (Botswana). Professor Allesandra Arioli of DAFEES and Stefano Baldi Netafim of BEXA have confirmed that they will be speaking at the conference. Organisers believe that there is an abundant and diverse range of opportunities from production of crops, livestock as well as mechanisation waiting to be exploited. They say it is therefore essential to create the conditions for private entrepreneurs, including small farmers, to create successful businesses and gain easier access to finance and the markets.

The conference is also expected to provide an opportunity for players in the agriculture and food-processing sector to strengthen cooperation and forge new partnerships. It will also provide a unique business platform for industry leaders, policy makers, governments and other important stakeholders for collaboration on the huge potential for growth, development and business. Conference content will vary from: plenary sessions focusing on farming to farm inputs, mechanisation and extension services, site tours and showcases of agri-business products and services.

Participants will include, industry leaders, decision makers and important stakeholders from across the entire spectrum of agriculture and related sectors. VCF Africa-Botswana focuses on creating, modeling and promoting investment projects for the African agriculture industry, through partnerships with other investing or consulting partners.

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LEA partners with Ministry for youth businesses

Keikantse Lesemela

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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.

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Ex Debswana boss counsels graduates

Keikantse Lesemela

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Speaking at the graduation ceremony of Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) on Saturday, former Managing Director of Debswana, Balisi Bonyongo said graduates and citizens need to position themselves to develop a clear technology and innovation strategy and roadmap that would enable the nation’s transformation into a knowledge-based economy.

“We need to create an entrepreneurship centre that would bring industry and the college together, to form a powerful force that would co-create breakthrough solutions capable of diversifying our country’s economy,” said Bonyongo.

The college released 645 graduates from different fields on Saturday. Since inception 22 years ago over 11 000 professionals graduated from the school. Bonyongo highlighted that graduates should approach problems creatively to provide sustainable, scalable and exponential solutions that could yield tremendous economic value.

“I urge all graduates to leverage technology and innovation to deliver practical solutions to society’s most urgent problems. Use your qualifications to seize opportunities to do what you love and enjoy,” said Bonyongo.

BAC Executive Director, Serty Leburu said between 2017 and 2018 they have experienced growth in the number of new students both full time and part time. “This mark of quality has inspired us to spread our wings and expand into other markets through various collaboration models,” she said.

Leburu revealed that they are currently in the process to introduce online learning to effectively support part-time students as well as provide some programs digitally. The college has partnered with several international universities including, University of Derby, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Sunderland and SAP University Alliance as well as Microsoft and the Cisco Academy.

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