Inexperience and poor decision-making skills continue to hinder a lot of Botswana`s youth entrepreneurial prospects.
This so happens as beneficiaries funded under the Youth Farmers Fund (YFF) abandon and divert funds leading to collapse of enterprises.
Acting Minister of Investment, trade and Industry Karabo Gare revealed that though there is a need to strengthen mentoring and monitoring services to detect challenges that can lead to collapse of businesses.
The ministry is also aware that amongst challenges that affected the Young Farmers Fund projects, natural disasters were part of such challenges.
Acting minister Gare said: “We wish to advise that Young Farmers Fund projects were affected by a myriad of challenges in combination, and the following are key to note. Insufficient business experience and technical skills that resulted in failure of the projects despite training and mentoring that was provided to beneficiaries. Mismanagement and diversion of projects funds by beneficiaries and the abandonment of projects.”
“The Agency has invested an amount of P264 573 000.00 towards 623 Young Farmers Fund projects. A total of 399 projects failed, where an amount P166 million was used to fund the projects. As advised earlier, the mentioned 399 projects that failed were eventually litigated in accordance with Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) processes. As part of its development intervention, the Agency provided rehabilitation and business advisory support towards YFF projects, with an effort to sustain them for a reasonable extensive time until the businesses could not respond in any way,” Gare said.
Furthermore, Gare said as per CEDA guidelines, the agency forecloses redeemable accounts as a last resort that is whereby all rehabilitation interventions have been applied but the projects are not showing any signs of recovery.
“For closure and litigation of projects being the last resort, the Agency would have reached the exhaustive level of support, whereby all rehabilitation interventions would have failed to yield meaningful outcomes. As such, the failed projects that have been qualified under this category are not receiving any assistance at any moment,” said Gare.
YFF beneficiaries are free to approach the agency for reconsiderations should any of their businesses circumstances change. It will however be subject to the agency’s review on how such change warrants restoration of the relationship with the agency to continue.
Furthermore Member of Parliament (MP) for Mahalapye West David Tshere asked the acting minister, seeing as the information he provided shows 67 percent or so of projects are failing,what they are doing to address the situation and the challenges.
The acting minister revealed that the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development is the caretaker of the fund and they could assist better with fund challenges.
“The agency has a provision to receive reasonable payment plan towards payment of CEDA debt and as such, plans are negotiated with clients at individual level. It is the agency’s determination that a project can be restructured and afforded a varying instalment and period of payment. Clients are assisted accordingly and as per their requests. Lastly, it should be understood that whilst it is an agency’s desire to accommodate clients that have had difficulties with their businesses and eventually businesses close, it is equally a responsibility of the agency to protect the assets of CEDA in an effort to revolve the fund. This is critical so that other deserving Batswana could continue to be assisted,” Gare said.