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Ten graduate from ODC entrepreneurship programme

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 Okavango Diamonds Company (ODC) held its second youth entrepreneurship graduation on Friday. The annual programme, which is a partnership with Stellenbosch University, has seen 10 youth graduating this year. Speaking during the graduation ceremony, ODC CEO, Frik Landman urged the young entrepreneurs to be creative and innovative so that they can benefit from the diamond industry. Landman said entrepreneurs should keep learning to develop their skills and understand market trends. “As an entrepreneur you have to go out there and look for relevant information.

I urge all our graduates to have courage to keep pressing until they succeed, entrepreneurship is about being determined to win no matter the rejections or disappointments,” he said. The programme was established in 2016 with the aim to empower young people and allow citizens to participate in the diamond industry. Landman explained that the graduates were taken through seven months of intensive training and were challenged to develop their business ideas. “Each student was challenged to conceptualise their business idea and present it to the panel of industry leaders.

Through this training programme we are sure that we have equipped these young people with skills and ideas to come up with solutions to the industry,” Landman said. ODC Board Member, Dr Khaulani Fichani said entrepreneurship is one of the key inputs in economic development, as it will help the society to combat unemployment. “The country has ventured into diversification of diamond value chain. We now have cutting, polishing and retailing. There is great opportunity for entrepreneurs and the youth.

They just need to be creative and innovative,” said Fichani ODC has invested over P2 million in the programme in the past two years. One of the gradauates, Totwana Tito Chimbise said she is empowered by the programme to become an entrepreneur. “I am a physiotherapist by profession but through the knowledge and skills I acquired from this training I am determined to become an entrepreneur and be a solution provider in the diamond industry,” said Chimbise. Bonolo Phaladze said the training has enabled her to identify her strengths in business operation and she is now going to collaborate with other graduates. “As an entrepreneur you have to know your co-anchors in your business. I have identified two other graduates within our team and we will work as partners in the business that we started through inspiration from this training,” she said.

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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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