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Machine operator turned tombstones

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Youthful entrepreneur, Keabetswe Malope ventured into tombstone sales business after realising that there is an untapped opportunity in the market.

His company, Shingaboy Tombstones sells and distributes tombstones around Botswana. Malope told Business Trends that he started the business because he wanted to fill the market gap and create employment for other young people. Malope, who is a qualified heavy plant machine operator, has never been employed as a heavy plant machine operator.

He has instead worked as tombstone installer and marketer for a local tombstone company for a period of one year and started his own business in 2015. “When I was an employee, I discovered a lot of inefficiencies from local service providers so I took that as a business opportunity,” said Malope. Starting the business was not difficult for him. He was fortunate to have interacted with a supplier in his previous job, who told him that he did not need a lot of money to start up.

Malope started with one tombstone that he sold for P35 000 and within a month more customers were already placing orders. “My supplier in South Africa encouraged me to start my company but I had fears because I did not have enough money to run a company, but he kept telling me to register a company and then start marketing the products.

After a while he supplied me with stock which I paid for after selling,” he said. Shingaboy Tombstones currently has four employees. Malope said through marketing and advertising on Facebook, he has been able to receive many customers from various places. Although he is competing with more established undertakers and mortuaries that are well known, he has been able to penetrate the market within two years.

He has been operating from home and now has moved to an office in Gabane. “We don’t feel intimidated by the big mortuaries because we offer dignified scheme that is designed to help families cope with demand of a funeral and burial which also focuses on the needs of the bereaved families. “Prices start from P4 000 to P35 000 and we offer transport,” said Malope. Among the challenges that his company faces is lack of transport to carry stock from South Africa and to deliver across the country.

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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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