INSPIRED: Some of the participants

The inaugural Youth Business Summit 2012 that was held at the new Tlotlo Hotel & Conference Center in Block-5 ended amid jubilation as elated young entrepreneurs expressed optimism in their future business ventures.

The summit that was held under the theme “Empowering the Youth through Entrepreneurship” was the first of its kind and was organized entirely by the youth themselves. It attracted a host of corporate industry players in the form of business funding organizations, youth owned businesses and many others.

Notable organizations that were in attendance were the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), Kgalagadi Breweries Limited’s Kickstart program and the United Kingdom based IndigoTrust Foundation, which provides grant funding for technology based social businesses all over Africa.

Major contributors to the summit included the Botswana Innovation Hub, TheVoice newspaper, BOCCIM, Consumer Watchdog Botswana, Fuse Consulting South Africa, Webtickets, Codeplan, Citizen Design, Media Expreshunz, Cryptic venue, Duma FM and Yarona FM.

The success of this summit marked a shift in paradigms by the youth, from passive observers to ones who are actively involved and take charge of their own empowerment activities especially in the field of business. To make it more relevant, the summit was officially opened by Botswana National Youth Council’s District Chairperson Moemedi Baikalafi.

A young man himself, Baikalafi hailed the youth of Botswana for showing a desire to keep up with current world trends where young people start and run multi- billion dollar establishments such as Mark Zukerberg of Facebook fame and many others who joined the business playing field at early ages. “Inherently, entrepreneurship has been a term associated with suited up men in glass offices in high- rise buildings,” but now all that is about to change since young people are getting more and more open to the corporate world and its practices.

Youth empowerment has been a task solely promoted by the government through its own birthed initiatives but the youth business summit demonstrated to the whole nation what self- driven and self- motivated young people are capable of,” Baikalafi observed.

Chicco Mokhe, the founder of Young Achievers Botswana, a youth organization that put the Youth Business Summit 2012 together, urged young people and the nation to refrain from talking about problems only but to focus all their efforts towards finding solutions to those problems.

“Not all young people should be out in the streets looking for jobs. Instead, others should be consumed with assisting to create those jobs through their small businesses,” he said and added that resources should be geared at setting up business incubators, researching niche markets, business training, facilities, mentoring and support, funding and adoption of ICT into day-to-day business dealings.

Mokhe also encouraged local funding organizations to reduce the stringent red tape that could discourage young people from venturing into the entrepreneurship sector.

The Business Summit gave funding and development organizations the opportunity to present their various programs and explain in detail the processes of acquiring business loans and grants from their respective organizations.

They assured the youth that their business proposal screening processes and procedures are transparent and cannot in anyway be assumed to be flawed as per the prevailing mentality within the youth who want to start their own businesses.

Richard Harriman from Consumer Watchdog and Managing Director of Business and Enterprise Solutions Botswana took to the stage to warn young people about scams that come in the form of pyramid schemes, network marketing and multi-level business models. He urged the youth to do business that is ethical and well regulated so that they operate within existing legal parameters.

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