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How Social Business Could Help Reduce Poverty in Botswana

Publishing Date : 08 January, 2018

Author :

SERGIO CODONYER, founder of social business Door to Europe Business, tells us why he thinks social business could help solve Botswana’s poverty crisis.

When I first moved to Botswana two years ago, one of the first things I noticed was the huge chasm between the middle class and those living in poverty. I was of course aware of Botswana’s poverty crisis before I visited the country but reading about it and seeing it in the flesh were two very different experiences. 

What shocked me the most was how often these two extremes existed a stone’s throw away from one another, with cramped, shack houses just across the road from wealthy, gated communities. 

Since the formation of the Botswana’s first National Development Plan in 1968, the Botswana government has been determined to eradicate poverty. Despite Botswana’s strong economy and infrastructure, 19.4% of the population still live below the poverty line. 

This is in a large part due to Botswana’s unemployment levels, which sat at 17.6% in 2016. Once unemployed, Botswanans easily sink below the poverty line and they and their families can stay trapped there for generations, regardless of how talented and hard-working they are. 

Living below the poverty line denies families access to the best education, the best healthcare and all but guarantees that their children’s futures.

The government’s fiscal policies and re-directing of resources into public healthcare and education are crucial to fighting poverty but on their own are not enough to achieve Botswana’s goals. 

To fully eradicate poverty, Botswana needs to address its unemployment crisis head on. After eight years working in Corporate Social Responsibility, I firmly believe that social business could be the solution Botswana’s been looking for. 

Social businesses use all kinds of approaches to fight unemployment; hiring only unemployed Batswana, helping local businesses’ grow their profits or teaching young people skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

Whatever approach they take, social businesses give chances to those who really need them and can help unemployed Batswana break free of the poverty cycle. If unemployed Batswana can find jobs, they can lift themselves out of poverty with dignity and give their children the chance of a better education and a better life.

Social business Little Pine Tree, is a great example of this theory in action. Little Pine Tree teaches unemployed women in Johannesburg how to hand-knit amigurumi toys, which are sold in stores across South Africa and Europe. All the profits made from the toys go towards buying new materials and paying the women a fair salary for their craftsmanship.

Little Pine Tree’s team of creators use the income they earn from knitting the toys to support their families, finance their children through university and grow their opportunities.

All the creators on the team were drawn to the project because they wanted to learn a new skill and they hope to encourage women across South Africa to tap into their creativity and explore their talents. 

By buying from businesses like Little Pine Tree and incorporating social business practices into companies across the country, we can help impoverished Botswanans build a better future for themselves and their families and ensure that poverty is eradicated. 

For more information on Little Pine Tree and Door to Business, please visit www.doortoeuropebusiness.com



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