The Government of Botswana through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has introduced a new diet in government schools comprising of additional vegetables, fruits and supplementary feeds like eggs and milk.
These changes in student feeding program which took effect from the beginning of third term this year is, according to observers, not only enhancing learners diet but will go a long way in empowering local businesses, especially small medium enterprises (SMEs) and community cooperatives. Government funded projects from youth empowerment programmes, women and disabled people schemes, poverty eradication projects are also expected to benefit from the multimillion pula procurements that will arise as a result of the new initiative.
Reports indicate that a total of P455 million has been set aside for the supplementary feeding program this financial year with the budget expected to double next financial year when the program commence beginning of financial year in April. Masego Ramakgati, an executive at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development recently revealed that the feeding augmentation is to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition among primary school pupils who are a target group vulnerable to malnutrition.
“This is a continuous process that seeks to improve the supplementary feeding and empower local farmers,” he highlighted. Within this budget, Councils will prioritize and procure food commodities depending on availability, he explained. The ministry says more food items will be added as and when necessary and subject to availability of funding. The ultimate objective is to provide pupils with a balanced and nutritious meal to curb and minimize the possibility of malnutrition, said Ramakgati.
Government through the ministry of Local Government and other ministries has made funds available for various businesses to empower local communities and unemployed youth. This initiatives have been facing numerous challenges amongst others lack of ready market for produced goods and product, primarily due to reasons being the projects are run in most cases by semi literate people with little knowledge on market scouting and advertising.
It is expected that as government spending increases under the supplementary feeding undertaking, a readily available gap to purchase this local produce opens especially vegetables and poultry produce. Already government procures local home baked bread for pupil consumption in public schools from local residents on rotational basis. Over 50 % food commodities are imported, mostly from South Africa. This translates into a huge import bill which is estimated at billions of pulas.
Local food production has been observed as a possible route to diversification away from the mining sector. Observers say innovative Agricultural practices would create sustainable long term productive employment in the sector and diversify through value addition as well as building a culture of giving priority to consuming local foods. Currently 70 per cent of Botswana population earn their livelihood from agriculture as farmers, labourers or both, and their mainstay of business was crop production as well as livestock rearing.
Government introduced ISPAAD and LIMID programmes, since the inception of LIMID in 2007, 34 155 projects had been implemented, adding that from that, 20 967 projects were specific to small stock, 5 187 projects to Tswana chickens, 233 projects to guinea fowls, 1 058 projects to animal husbandry and fodder support and 670 projects were towards water development. 370 682 sheep and goats, 117 407 Tswana chickens and 5 825 guinea fowls had been disbursed to beneficiaries.
330 people benefitted under special ISPAAD, and seven community boreholes in the Kgalagadi District had been equipped and water reticulated. During the 2015/16 financial year, 4 896 774 litres of milk were produced locally from 1 131 milking cows, in the the 2015/16 cropping season, a total of 292 033 hectares were ploughed by 75 001 farmers while in the 2016/17 season, 384 065 hectares were planted by 100 200 farmers.
The Agricultural sector which Botswana hopes to explore and reduce her import bill, diversify the economy and create employment, is a highly developed industry in Israel. Israel is a major exporter of fresh produce and a world-leader in "Agricultural research In Israel" agricultural technologies despite the fact that the geography of Israel is not naturally conducive to agriculture. Last week 35 students were sent to Israel for benchmarking purposes.
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The recent study on youth entrepreneurship in Botswana has identified difficult access to funding, land, machinery, lack of entrepreneurial mindset and proper training as serious challenges that continue to hamper youth entrepreneurship development in this country.
The study conducted by Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) in collaboration with University of Botswana has confirmed that despite the government and private sector multi-billion pula entrepreneurship development initiatives, many young people in Botswana continue to fail to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful companies that can help reduce unemployment.
University of Botswana researchers Gaofetege Ganamotse and Rudolph Boy who compiled findings in the 2022 study report for Botswana stated that as part of the study interviews were conducted with successful youth entrepreneurs to understand their critical success factors.
According to the researchers other participants were community leaders, business mentors, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, financial institutions, higher education institutions, non-governmental institutions, policymakers, private organizations, and support structures such as legal and technical experts and accountants who were interviewed to understand how they facilitate successful youth entrepreneurship.
The researchers said they found that although Botswana government is perceived as the most supportive to businesses when compared to other governments in sub-Saharan Africa, youth entrepreneurs still face challenges when accessing government funding. “Several finance-related challenges were identified by youth entrepreneurs. Some respondents lamented the lack of access to start-up finance, whereas others mentioned lack of access to infrastructure.”
The researchers stated that in Botswana entrepreneurship is not yet perceived as a field or career of choice by many youth “Participants in the study emphasized that the many youth are more of necessity entrepreneurs, seeing business venturing as a “fall back. Other facilitators mentioned that some youth do not display creativity, mind-blowing innovative solutions, and business management skills. Some youth entrepreneurs like to take shortcuts like selling sweets or muffins.”
According to the researchers, some of the youth do not display perseverance when they are faced with adversity in business. “Young people lack of an entrepreneurial mindset is a common challenge among youth in business. Some have a mindset focused on free services, handouts, and rapid gains. They want overnight success. As such, they give up easily when faced with challenges. On the other hand, some participants argue that they may opt for quick wins because they do not have access to any land, machinery, offices, and vehicles.”
The researchers stated that most youth involved in business ventures do not have the necessary training or skills to maintain a business. “Poor financial management has also been cited as one of the challenges for youth entrepreneurs, such as using profit for personal reasons rather than investing in the business. Also some are not being able to separate their livelihood from their businesses.
Lastly, youth entrepreneurs reported a lack of experience as one of the challenges. For example, the experience of running a business with projections, sticking to the projections, having an accounting system, maintaining a clean and clear billing system, and sound administration system.”
According to the researchers, the participants in the study emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “There is no integration of the ecosystem players. As such, they end up with duplicate programs targeting the same objectives. The financial sector recommended that there is a need for an intermediary body that will bring all the ecosystem actors together and serve as a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs and build mentorship programs that accommodate the business lifecycle from inception to growth.”
Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is said to have recorded an operating surplus of P61 Million, an improvement compared to the previous year. The housing, office and other building needs giant met with stakeholders recently to share how the business has been.
The P61 million is a significant increase against the P6 million operating loss realized in the prior year. Profit before income tax also increased significantly from P2 million in the prior year to P72 million which resulted in an overall increase in surplus after tax from P1 million prior year to P64 million for the year under review.
Chief of Finance Officer, Diratsagae Kgamanyane disclosed; “This growth in surplus was driven mainly by rental revenue that increased by 15% from P209 million to P240 million and reduction in expenditure from P272 million to P214 million on the back of cost containment.” He further stated that sales of high margin investment properties also contributed significantly to the growth in surplus as well as impairment reversals on receivables amounting to P25 million.
It is said that the Corporation recorded a total revenue of P702 million, an 8% decrease when compared to the P760 million recorded in the prior year. “Sales revenue which is one of the major revenue streams returned impressive margins, contributing to the overall growth in the gross margin,” added Kgamanyane.
He further stated professional fees revenue line declined significantly by 64% to P5 million from P14 million in the prior year which attributed to suspension of planned projects by their clients due to Covid-19 pandemic. “Facilities Management revenue decreased by P 24 million from P69 million recorded in prior year to P45 million due to reduction in projects,” Kgamanyane said.
The Corporation’s strength is on its investment properties portfolio that stood at P1.4 billion at the end of the reporting period. “The Corporation continues its strategy to diversify revenue streams despite both facilities management income and professional fees being challenged by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen its major clients curtailing spending,” added the CEO.
On the one hand, the Corporation’s Strategic Performance which intended to build 12 300 houses by 2023 has so far managed to build 4 830 houses under their SHHA funding scheme, 1 240 houses for commercial or external use which includes use by government and 1 970 houses to rent to individuals.
BHC Acting CEO Pascaline Sefawe noted that; BHC’s planned projects are said to include building 336 flat units in Gaborone Block 7 at approximately P224 million, 100 units in Maun at approximately P78 million, 13 units in Phakalane at approximately P26 million, 212 units in Kazungula at approximately P160 million, 96 units at approximately P42 million in Francistown and 84 units at approximately P61 million in Letlhakane. Emphasing; “People tend to accuse us of only building houses in Gaborone, so here we are, including other areas in our planned projects.”