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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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‘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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