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Olopeng vows to create youth millionaires

Youth Minister sets the tone on youth empowerment

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Thapelo Olopeng’s envisaged dream to produce at least five young entrepreneur millionaires during his tenure at the ministry could be well on track.

The minister, who has been buoyant on youth aligned policies, has said he will further ensure that a host of other young people succeeds in businesses.  

Olopeng’s approach has been to loosen up on tight breakthrough pathways into business by making it easier for young people to venture into business especially their participation in public procurement.

Since taking over at the ministry from his predecessors Shaw Kgathi and Vincent Seretse, the Member of Parliament for Tonota has targeted reforms in policies so as to facilitate in thrusting youth into entrepreneurship.

Olopeng, who is also an established businessman, has said that part of his resolve is to ensure that youth-owned ventures with potential to expand to create more jobs are funded.

Speaking recently, the minister has noted that his move is aimed at businesses which were either previously funded through Youth Development Fund (FYD) or self-financed. “Already I have identified some ventures owned by young entrepreneurs who I will ensure that they get extra-funding for expansion,” he said.

Olopeng who is one of President Ian Khama’s trusted men has recently been making cabinet busy with some request to approve and grant their implementation. So far Olopeng seems like is getting his way with his ambitions.

Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Board (PPADB) this week revealed that it will start implementing Presidential Directive in relation to the registration of youth-owned business next week Monday. PPADB said the initiative, which is Olopeng’s brainchild is aimed at encouraging youth to play an active role in the economy and actively participate in public procurement and asset disposal.

Some of the initiatives include giving youth businesses the privilege of buying tender documents at half the price and also having their business being registered within 14 days.

Olopeng also announced the purchase of quad-bikes by his ministry last month and explained that the bikes will be used in different districts by officers to visit youth owned projects in different terrains. Olopeng admitted that government was facing problem of lack of transport hence his decision.  

PPAD has however told this publication that currently there are no threshold for youth owned companies in public procurement but noted that there are several reservations schemes for 100% citizens owned companies such as the Economic Diversification Scheme (EDD), Local Procurement Scheme (LPS), and the recent Quick wins for Cabinet Directive for Youth Empowerment of 2015.

A Cabinet directive also this year resolved that 30 percent of cattle patrol tenders and 30 percent of cutline and fire break tenders are reserved for youth.

Due to lack of experience in business, youth owned business have found it difficult to break through in public procurement which is a highly competitive sector with various companies bidding for government works and services.

According to PPADB, youth who bid for government funded projects are entitled through LPS for a 3 percent price preference. This means the participating youth companies must meet all the set compliance, technical, quality and price requirements set in the tender document issued in a particular locality. This however does apply only to youth who are not based in towns and cities.

In Botswana, and mostly other developing countries, public procurement accounts to over 70 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This means without youth-owned business participation in the public procurement, their meaningful participation in the economy will remain minimal and insignificant.

This year, the ruling party passed a motion in parliament albeit resistance from opposition MPs, which phased out CEDA Young Farmers Fund replacing it with Youth Entrepreneurship Fund (YEF). Member of Parliament for Kgalagadi North Itumeleng Moipisi who presented the motion noted that the idea was to broaden the scope of funding for youth businesses.

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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup

29th May 2023

With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.

Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.

The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.

Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.

“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.

Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.

Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.

For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.

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Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS

26th May 2023

The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.

When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.

Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.

She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.

During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.

Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017

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Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting

23rd May 2023

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.

According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,  the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.

However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.

“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.

While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.

“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.

The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.




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