Building on an already large portfolio of efforts in the financial literacy and youth employability space, Stanbic Bank Botswana’s most admired ‘’Better My Lebotha’’ radio show made its return to the airwaves early this year.
The show celebrated 5th season with a clear theme and focus on youth, with this season’s banner theme of ‘’let’s talk Youth Employability plus Entrepreneurship’’ When speaking at the launch of the radio show in Gaborone recently, Head of Marketing at Stanbic Bank Botswana Stephanie Stoneham said the few months have seen them invest even further in this area that they remain passionate about and committed towards youth employability and entrepreneurship.
Following the launch of their AcceleR8 Incubator space, Stanbic said it wants to ensure a holistic, multi-platform approach that sees the bank act as a true facilitator of and for progress amongst youth, for youth are very much of the future. Leveraging such a strong and reputed asset as the radio show allows the bank to engage a wider audience, one already captive by previous financial literacy insights and dialogue, now we take things up a notch, Stoneham said
A communiqué from the bank said this season’s topics will cover information and skills young people can use to better prepare themselves for joining the job market and for a more entrepreneurial mind-set, with expert guests invited, selected for their skills, organisation and relevance to the topic, to unpack key issues further.
Amongst the key themes being discussed on air will be: Starting out as a new employee; Looking for a job; Career development, upwards or outwards; and Giving SMEs access to markets. The statement further said these are based on crowd sourced content of what youth desire to learn more about and discuss further, shared with the bank in a number of previous youth platforms, as well as through digital feedback platforms.
It also noted that Tshepang Motsisi and Mduduzi Madzwamuse will continue as show hosts with the latter hosting the popular ‘’On the Streets’’ component to engage youth in and around Botswana. In addition, Christopher Seagateng, award winning youth activist, writer, journalist and innovator will serve as a recurring youth host to lend his insights and experiences. He is a broadcasting and journalism graduate, public relations officer at Botswana Jobs for Graduates, and Botswana National Youth Council Board Member, who participates on this board in his personal capacity, passionate about making a difference in this space, the statement said
The Bank further highlighted that it remains resolute in working to create a better future for Botswana’s youth, from initiatives such as the inaugural financial literacy modules for young learners in 2010 to four previous financial literacy radio show seasons, multiple sponsorships in the youth space, and an overarching commitment of P6 Million towards youth employability work streams across the next 3 years.
Stoneham indicated that this project remains incredibly close to the bank’s commitment and are able to grow it further working closely with partners to support the youth of the country in as meaningful and impactful a way as possible. Meanwhile, just a month ago, Stanbic Bank hosted the graduation of the 2019 cohort of the African Women Leadership Academy TAWLA, amid great cheer for the incredible milestone this represents for both organisations.
There were 35 participants, comprising of 25 young women and 10 young men, in the current TAWLA cohort, all whom were celebrated for having successfully taken part in the TAWLA Leadership and Mentorship Programme, which focuses on building character and confidence, enhancing self-esteem, building resilience, leadership skills training, entrepreneurship and life skills development.
When speaking at the graduation ceremony, Stoneham said ‘’Botswana is our home and driving her growth is our brand purpose and this, for us means enabling Batswana to move forward and progress in life. This may be through an investment in initiatives such as TAWLA to help them move our youth forward and spearhead their legacies. We are here for the highs and the lows, and we are a partner for progress, for our youth are our future, and we remain committed to them’’
Stanbic Bank further reiterated on the night that they have dedicated 1 per cent of profits, which translates to P6 Million over the next three years towards youth employability and entrepreneurship drive. ‘’As a brand, we believe partnerships is critical in eradicating youth unemployment. Our support for TAWLA, which is itself a long-term one, is very much part of this.
We are proud to have played an active role in contributing to their growth over the duration of the programme and believe their involvement in the programme will unlock more opportunities to keep moving forward. With a firm believe that our youth are our future, the bank continues to invest in making progress real for the youth’’ Stoneham concluded.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”