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Gaone Mabalane, perseverance embodied

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Driven by passion for business and love for children, young entrepreneur, Gaone Mabalane realised that she can create employment by taking care of children. She registered a business in 2014 and started operating a day care centre in February this year through the assistance of Youth Development Fund. Her school, Little Saviours Academy, enrols children from one to six years. It is located in Block 8 Suburb of Gaborone. In an interview with Business Trends, Mabalane said the school is an innovative solution that acts as virtual parents, broadening the children’s skills and enriching each child’s cognitive, social and spiritual development. The school is different from other Pre-Schools as it has combined the national Pre-primary curriculum framework combined with ABC Jesus Loves Me, which focuses on academic development and the Bible.

“My passion is to develop children at a young age, so I have constructed my programmes and learning experiences that will give children endless opportunities to learn and grow in six areas including nurturing creativity, developing lasting life skills, growing a healthy body, making new friends, building brain power and communicating with others,” said Mabalane. She wants to contribute to economic development through education. “I love children and I always want to train them and help them realise their potential at a young age.

Looking at unemployment rate I decided to turn this passion into a business concept,” said Mabalane. Starting up the business was not easy as she had no funds and all financial institutions believed that the business was not viable. She needed more than P200 000 to start-up but she was only funded for P100 000, however, she managed to do other projects including the upgrading of infrastructure. Although several institutions and regulators including Gaborone City Council and Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development rejected her, Mabalane was determined to see her business operating so she persisted and never got discouraged. “It was not an easy path for me to arrive at this stage.

I was consistently rejected by youth funders and the city council also refused to grant me the license. I had to go through courts, lost cases and I appealed and finally got approved. Starting up a business is not easy, it takes courage and faith,” she said. Currently, she has enrolled 10 students and employed two people. She will employ up to five teachers when students enrolment increases. The school is licensed to enrol 50 students and has a ratio of 10 students per teacher. School fees are offered at an affordable price of P3600 per term or at an instalment of P1200 every month.

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SMEs benefit from Consumer Fair growth

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The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has applauded Botswana Consumer Fair’s continued efforts to improve small to medium enterprises’ linkages.

BITC Chief Executive Officer, Keletsositse Olebile, when opening the fair, said the event has provided interactive forum for both local and foreign exhibitors. He said the shopping show has enabled manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to market their products directly to consumers, an alignment to government’s endeavors.

“As part of government intention, we continually encourage local sourcing by retailers and distributors,” said Olebile who is just few months into his new post. He further celebrated the growth of Botswana Consumer Fair over the years, attributing the expansion to quality of goods displayed at the previous shows.“Improved quality and increased variety of wares increases the interest of the visitors and makes them look forward to returning the following year,” said Olebile.

This year’s exhibitors at the 13th event still running under the banner: ‘It is more than just shopping’ have been drawn from Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, India, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Consumer Fair is a flagship event for Fairgrounds Holdings and provides a platform for small medium enterprises (SMEs) from the different sectors of the economy to showcase and promote their products and services. In addition, the SMEs are expected to establish long term business linkages and promote local manufactured goods.Fairgrounds Holdings is already optimistic that the Fair immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through supporting SMEs.

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‘Involve SMMEs in standards development’-Minister

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo appealed to Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to include the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) when developing the standards to improve the sector.

She said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has identified three areas of focus going forward which are modeled on SMME development, investment promotion and export development apexes. “I would like to implore you to include this sector in standards development processes and assist in improving SMMEs conformity to standards and compliance to technical regulations,” said Kenewendo.

Speaking during the BOBS Technical Committee Members appreciation ceremony on Thursday, Kenewendo explained that the important roles of standards are underpinned by the aspirations and intentions espoused in both diversified export led economic growth and job creation as priority areas. “It goes without saying that the diversification of the economy requires a National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework that promote competitiveness of Botswana goods and services.”

She also emphasized that an effective National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework are essential as they provide crucial links to global trade, market access and export competitiveness through their contribution to consumer confidence in product safety, quality and the environment.Since inception in 1997 BOBS has published more than 1700 standards through 48 technical committees across several sectors of the economy; 109 certification licences have been issued against some of these standards. Currently 46 Botswana Standards are being implemented through the standards regulations with a view to protecting the health and safety of consumers as well as protection of the environment.

On her note, BOBS Vice Chairperson of the Standards Council, Professor Edward Dintwa said standards are powerful tools for helping organisations that implement them to realize their potential, have access and compete in the global marketplace. “In this highly competitive and complex world, issues of sustainability and productivity, viewed from economic, environmental and societal perspectives require that businesses must be more efficient in their operations, which can be achieved through the implementation of standards”.

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