Fuelling Botswana’s flourishing entrepreneur scene
There is a strong culture of entrepreneurship in Botswana, a country that stands as one of Africa’s notable economic development success stories over the past two decades. But despite the country’s relative success, unemployment remains a major issue; hence job creation and economic diversification form a central theme for all key stakeholders, including public, private Non-Governmental Organizations.
SABMiller plc is one such stakeholder. The global brewer operates in Botswana through an affiliation with Sechaba Brewery Holdings Limited [SBHL] that gives the company management control in Kgalagadi Breweries Pty (KBL). Kgalagadi Beverages Trust (KBT) is the Corporate Social Investment (CSI) arm of KBL.
To encourage the development of new businesses and the create jobs, in 2004 KBT launched KickStart to budding youth aged between 18 and 30 years of age with the aim of assisting them to start businesses or expand their already existing fledgling business ventures. To this end, KickStart provides business skills training and start-up capital in the form of grants to assist youth entrepreneurs who have viable business ideas by “kick-starting” them into life.
Grants range from P1, 000 (US$120) to P100, 000 (US$12,000) and funding is provided in the form of start-up capital (assets rather than cash). This helps young business sponsors to overcome the increasingly prohibitive factors facing new businesses and in line with their business case aspirations. As such, recipients do not receive grants in cash; however, KickStart purchases the fixed assets required for each winning business as well as free business mentorship during the first year of operation.
Moagi Mokgosi is one of the country’s raft of rising businessmen. He operates Webscape a corporate website development and maintenance business.
The ICT industry in Botswana is relatively young, leaving plenty of scope for continued expansion. After winning a P70,000 (US$8,500) grant from KickStart, Webscape acquired cutting edge equipment, technology and software required to stay ahead in the website development industry. Today the company is renowned to be amongst the best in web development in Botswana and boasts a coveted clientele for its services.
KBT’s CSI strategy reflects the group’s strategic themes of benefiting communities, and encouraging enterprise development. At least 80% of CSI spend is invested in activities supporting these two priorities.
Traditionally, capital financing, market access, capacity building and business development skills have been overwhelming barrier for entrepreneurs, particularly the youth. KickStart rose to this challenge to provide a consistent, strategic focus on enterprise development as a vehicle for bringing a great opportunity for hope and change to youth enterprise development scene. Almost overnight, KickStart was able to instantly transform business dreams into realities for many aspiring youth. KBT pursues a core philosophy for holistic rather than partial support for KickStart beneficiaries. As such, the KickStart intervention typically includes training, finance, mentoring and business reporting; thereby providing a holistic and credible platform for youth and enterprise development in Botswana; as opposed to isolated interventions
Now in its eighth year, KickStart is the largest and most successful enterprise development programme run by a private sector company in Botswana. To date, the programme has distributed close to P8 million (US$970,000) to youth entrepreneurship projects and provided business skills training to 107 young entrepreneurs. The programme has enabled more than 30 young Batswana entrepreneurs to realize their dreams of owning a business.
Following Kick Start’s pioneering role, the enterprise development support landscape in Botswana is changing significantly. A growing number of private sector and government programmes are joining the scene. KickStart continues to be highly successful in inculcating a culture of entrepreneurship among young Batswana who have over the years seized the opportunity as a platform for growth and business success.
A recent evaluation showed that over 80% of the entrepreneurs supported by the programme in Botswana were still trading after 7 years. Many of these have grown into highly successful businesses employing significant numbers of people.