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Teachers, youth implicated in business failures-Report

Teachers

A new study has pointed out that Botswana youth have themselves to blame for failure in being successful entrepreneurs. Also contributing to the failures of youth related businesses are teachers and the government.

The report compiled by the African Alliance for Partnership highlighted several challenges that lead to youth failing in their business endeavors. First, students tend to have little interest in entrepreneurship because they take it as a fallback alternative, the report says.

“As a result, they pursue the necessity type of entrepreneurship. Second, the mindset of youth in Botswana is not conducive to driving successful entrepreneurship,” says the report. Also, contrary to previous entrepreneurship scholars who suggest that successful entrepreneurship requires one to devote the necessary time and effort, this study suggests “that the youth in Botswana are not patient; they like taking shortcuts.”

Second, the study points to the poor quality of entrepreneurship teachers, which could result from not recognizing entrepreneurship as a professional field. The study suggests that entrepreneurship subjects are taught by non-specialists who mainly take traditional approaches to teaching of entrepreneurship.

Third, the time allocated to entrepreneurship when entrepreneurship is taught in the university is too short. Entrepreneurial education involves developing behaviors, skills, and attributes applied individually and/or collectively to help individuals and businesses create, cope with, and enjoy change and innovation.

The study also has highlighted several challenges that could explain the reported ineffectiveness of entrepreneurship education in graduating successful youth entrepreneurs. Evidence from this study suggests that what is taught in tertiary institutions did not adequately prepare the youth for what lies ahead.

“The challenge related to the teaching entrepreneurship is that there is inadequate entrepreneurship education. This demonstrates the nascent nature of Botswana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, making it challenging to engage locally and globally,” the study says.  It says tertiary education intuitions in Botswana have relied on local students sponsored by the government, resulting from the changes in the tertiary education policy and the government sponsorship model.

“The model was not sustainable, and the government has since embarked on efforts to reduce sponsorships to tertiary education in line with the recommendations from the Human Resource Development Council,” the study says. The study says the result is that tertiary institutions, both private and public, have seen severe budget cuts, which has resulted in the drastic reduction of tertiary institutions from 85 in 2016 to 48 in 2019.

“Therefore, it is not surprising that the study’s results highlight the budgetary constraints for both public and private tertiary education institutions,” the study says. The results from the interviews show that the entrepreneurship ecosystem is marred by challenges related to disaggregation. First, the study reveals that the government tends to take an active role in entrepreneurship development instead of providing guidance and monitoring at the policy level.

In addition to government institutions that reported strong collaboration in providing support to youth entrepreneurs, most private sector and parastatal organizations work in silos (operating in their own). The report says such disaggregated entrepreneurship development efforts tend to be self-defeating because successful entrepreneurship development functions as an efficient entrepreneurial ecosystem

Also, the study suggests that impactful entrepreneurship development can be achieved when government develops policies and engages the private sector to implement them. In this case, the government plays more of a supportive and monitoring role. The study recommended that government reduced control on entrepreneurship support institutions; allow greater independence to implement efficient entrepreneurship development models.

Also, the participants emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “This happens in instances where the government and the private sector have similar programs. An integrated system will help to channel available government funds towards sustainable entrepreneurial activities,” the report says. One of the participants suggested that perhaps the government should focus on policy development rather than implementation.

The study further shows that successful entrepreneurs who accessed government funding repaid their loans. This finding is critical because it suggests that government efforts can be practical when care is taken to select beneficiaries who have the potential to succeed. “For example, the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture disburses around BWP 120 million in start-up loans each year and at the time of this study about BPW 400 million was owed (MYSC). This could help avert the problem of failure to repay the loans,” the study says.

Despite the success stories related by the respondents, several challenges were highlighted; investing in businesses that do not have solid frameworks adding that most financial institutions do not have requirements that are tailored for youth entrepreneurs.

The report says the difficulty in getting contracts with local companies relative to multinational or cross border companies is a challenge that hinders business continuity or sustainability. Furthermore, the compliance requirements are cumbersome for SMMEs who wish to participate in tender processes, the study notes.

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