The mayor of Francistown, Honest Buti Billy, has commended the efforts of the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency for creating employment in the city of Francistown.
Addressing the full council meeting earlier this week, the mayor said that the city of Francistown has not escaped the misfortune of unemployment in Botswana, which is currently pegged at 17.5%. He, however, applauded the initiatives of corporations like CEDA, which he said are working very hard to remedy the unemployment situation in the city.
Since it opened its offices in Francistown in August 2001, CEDA has funded over 210 projects valued at over P112 million. These include 5 property development projects valued at close to P6 million, 26 agriculture projects valued at over P14 million, 31 manufacturing projects valued at over P12 million , 45 retailing projects valued at close to P60 thousand and over 100 services projects. On a national scale, CEDA has funded over 1700 projects to the tune of over P900 million, at the same time creating over 9000 full time jobs.
“These figures show CEDA’s commitment to combating unemployment and contributing to government’s efforts of citizen empowerment and economic diversification as well as improving the national gross domestic product index,” said the mayor.
CEDA has over the years revamped their products and services to be more aligned to the global challenges that the world is faced with today. Recently, the agency revamped its mentoring program to make it more assignment based with a view to identifying skills gaps and improving services at the project appraisal stage. The move was also aimed at improving prospects of success as the potential investor or project sponsor would be more empowered to harness their ideas and improve on their weaknesses.
The introduction of the young farmers fund has also been hailed as a milestone in government’s initiatives of making Botswana more self sustainable in terms of commercial agriculture and food production as well as creating employment for the youth, especially unemployed gradates.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard on Thursday, CEDA spokesman, Masegonyana Madisa, said that they have now become very proactive in seeking to fund and assist start up and existing business. He explained that they have now changed their modus operandi and will now go into the market in search of potential clients instead of waiting for clients to come to them.
“We will now be seeking out businesses that have potential with a view to offering them tailor made products and services that will be specifically suited to their needs” he said. Madisa also said that their products and services allow them to easily root out existing clients and facilitate their expansion projects especially since they already have an existing relationship through which they can be able to iron out prior failures and difficulties to increase prospects of success. “It is important that we continue the momentum and rapport that we have built with our clients as an avenue of facilitating expansion, refinancing and business continuity” he said.
Meanwhile CEDA Francistown’s entrepreneurship development manager, Jeffrey Jankie, explained that his office caters for businesses within the city, north east and Chobe districts. He explained that while most of their businesses are from within Francistown, they have nurtured a number of tourism businesses in the Chobe district, and some of them are showing sterling results.
“Our tourism clients from areas like Kasane are young entrepreneurs who have at some point worked in the tourism industry, and they have displayed exquisite business acumen that has catapulted their businesses to greater heights and enabled them to out-compete larger companies that have been operating for longer periods,” he said.
Jankie also explained that the secret behind CEDA’s success is that their services go beyond funding as they also provide additional services, like mentoring and training, which have enabled quite a number of their clients to succeed.