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Entrepreneurs get inspiration in Denmark

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Three local youth-led enterprises had an opportunity to join hundreds other international youth-led enterprises in Copenhagen, Denmark at the Creative Business Cup International Final, and are back to make an impact in Botswana. Creative Business Cup is the global initiative for entrepreneurship and innovation that supports startups, connects entrepreneurs to investors and global markets. The three are Martin De Klerk Moatshe of IFirsh, Donald Ramotshebe of Medmall Africa and Leungo Tebogo of Ba Hana Farmers Market.

IFirsh

Martin De Klerk Moatshe runs Ifirsh, a technology company that develops Applications. The company has developed an app that refines purchase processes and does among others; purchasing analytics, provides information on where ‘your’ customers are and how much they spend. The app also sources customers strategically and manages them. According to Moatshe, the trip to Copenhagen came at the right time when they were seeking an international audience for their app. “This app is relevant to the current environment in both private companies and governments, especially now that governments are implementing e-government strategies,” Moatshe told Sun Business. This app is expected to optimise operations and promote transparency in procurement in government especially at lower levels. “This opens the market to even SMEs. For example, if a government department needs stationery worth P5 000, there is a transparent process where this procurement can take place.” Moatshe said in Copenhagen there is a high level of belief in startup businesses as key drivers of the economy from key stakeholders like government, investors and incubators. IFirsh is now working on setting up a startup in one of Europe’s leading tech countries after they had fruitful discussions with the country’s ambassador in Denmark who found their app to be relevant as an e-governance solution. “Now that we are back in Botswana we are working on repackaging our platform, making it more robust, increasing it’s functionality and build traction to it. The Business Cup is a great platform for all entrepreneurs because there is an international community out there that will help you develop your business model and put you on the map.”

 

Medmall Africa

Medmall connects doctors and patients and brings critical health care information to people in rural areas by creating content catering to their needs. Medmall representative in Denmark, Donald Ramotshebe said in an interview that going to Copenhagen was a good and rare opportunity that enabled him to rub shoulders with other hi-tech young entrepreneurs from around the world. “It was encouraging and motivating. I learnt a lot about what other people are doing to change the world, one startup at a time,” he said. One thing that Ramotshebe realised is that the level of competition in the area of technology and innovation in Europe is high. “I learnt that I cannot do projects with a monoscope of Botswana, but I need to think big and cater for global scale,” Ramotshebe said. While in Copenhagen, Ramotshebe met a local medical team that seeks ways of effectively and efficiently sorting medications in facilities and discussed possibilities of collaborating. “Now that we are in 2018, I am hoping for great opportunities of working with them going forward,” he said. Ramotshebe found the networking sessions to be beneficial as he met different people from startups, entrepreneurship partners and investors. “Some of the insights I got from the trip are ways in which to make my startup concept better and get it ready for market. I also got insights from other entrepreneurs on which markets to focus on.”

 

Ba Hana Farmers Market

The highlight of the Copenhagen trip for Leungo Tebogo of Ba Hana Farmers Market was the bootcamp. This is where they met and interacted with several other young entrepreneurs from other countries. They were taught vital skills of running global businesses and running startups in workshops and sessions that were designed to suit each entrepreneur. There was also a market day where winners exhibited in a global expo. Ba Hana Farmers Market is an outdoor grocery store that gives local startups a platform to showcase their products. It helps farmers and other entrepreneurs in the agricultural value chain to grow from small scale to large scale. They provide a unique platform where farmers get the opportunity to sell directly to their market and interact with other entrepreneurs and share skills and experiences. One thing that Tebogo learnt from Copenhagen is the fusion of technology and agriculture, which she plans to implement in Botswana over time. “We managed to form relations with other young people who are in similar businesses like us and were exposed to unconventional farming methods, which we believe could help us and even our clients deal with the current challenges of agriculture in Botswana,” Tebogo said. Tebogo encourages every entrepreneur especially startups to never let such great opportunities go without giving them the best shot. “Creative Business Cup is a great way to give your startup the necessary push in the right direction.”

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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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