The following is a press release prepared by the organiser’s of Botswana’s recent Youth Business Summit. Loren Treisman prepared a presentation for the event, which you can view below.
The inaugural Youth Business Summit 2012 was hosted at the new Tlotlo Hotel & Conference Center in Block-5 Gaborone. The theme for the summit was “Empowering the Youth through Entrepreneurship”. This business event was the first of its magnitude organized entirely by the youth themselves. It attracted a host of corporate industry players in the form of business funding organizations, youth owned businesses and many others. Notable organizations that were in attendance as primary contributing partners were the Local Enterprise Authority, Botswana Innovation Hub and Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency. In addition, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited’s Kickstart program and the United Kingdom based IndigoTrust Foundation, which provides grant funding for technology based social businesses all over Africa also played a key role. Contributing media partners to the summit included TheVoice newspaper, Duma FM and Yarona FM. Participating organisations included BOCCIM, Consumer Watchdog Botswana, Fuse Consulting South Africa, Webtickets, Codeplan, Citizen Design, Media Expreshunz, and Cryptic Avenue Clothing.
The success of this summit marked a shift in paradigms by the youth, from passive observers to ones who are actively involved and take charge of their own empowerment activities especially in the field of business. It was officially opened by Botswana National Youth Council’s District Chairperson Mr. Moemedi Baikalafi. A young man himself, he hailed the youth of Botswana for showing a desire to “keep up with current world trends where young people start and run multi- billion dollar establishments such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and many others who joined the business playing field at early ages.” He also noted that “inherently, entrepreneurship has been a term associated with suited up men in glass offices in high- rise buildings”, but now all that is about to change since young people are getting more and more open to the corporate world and its practices.
Mr. Chicco Mokhe, the founder of Young Achievers Botswana, a youth organization that put the Youth Business Summit 2012 together, urged young people and the nation to refrain from talking about problems only but to focus all their efforts towards finding solutions to those problems. He pointed out that “…not all young people should be out in the streets looking for jobs instead, others should be consumed with assisting to create those jobs through their small businesses.” Mr. Mokhe pressed that “…resources should be geared at setting up business incubators, researching niche markets, business training, facilities, mentoring and support, funding and adoption of ICT into day-to-day business dealings.” He also encouraged local funding organizations to reduce the stringent red tape that could discourage young people from venturing into the entrepreneurship sector. The Business Summit gave funding and development organizations the opportunity to present their various programs and explain in detail the processes of acquiring business loans and grants from their respective organizations. They assured the youth that their business proposal screening processes and procedures are transparent and can not in anyway be assumed to be flawed as per the prevailing mentality within the youth who want to start their own businesses.
Mr. Richard Harriman from Consumer Watchdog and Managing Director of Business and Enterprise Solutions Botswana took to the stage to warn young people about scams that come in the form of pyramid schemes, network marketing and multi-level business models. He urged the youth to do business that is ethical and well regulated so that they operate within existing legal parameters.
Young people took advantage of the opportunity of having all the major funding and development organizations present under one roof and participating on one platform to ask questions to seek clarity about any misconceptions about accessing funding and development assistance. The event also presented an opportunity for them to network, exchange ideas and showcase their own products to each other. It was also a chance to speak to personalities from the corporate sector on a one to one basis. This fulfills another objective of the Youth Business Summit 2012 of bridging the gap between the youth and the corporate world.
Young Achievers Botswana has pledged to continue organizing youth- oriented business summits and many other youth empowerment initiatives and campaigns to assist the government in eradicating vices, realizing pillars of the national Vision-2016 and beyond. Y.A.B has also encouraged the youth to work together to empower themselves instead of always waiting for the government to come up with empowerment strategies. This is important because young people understand their own problems better than anyone else. Young Achievers Botswana organization plans to keep forging ahead with courting collaborations with the government and private sector to share the responsibility of emancipating and empowering the youth of Botswana in the short and long term. These corporate collaborations are what contributed to the success of the Youth Business Summit 2012. Y.A.B has other plans to decentralize these youth activities from the capital city Gaborone to other towns and villages so that every corner of the country understands and benefits from such campaigns. The next Youth Business Summit will be in 2013.