Despite the economic challenges facing Botswana, some critics opine that the conversation on Botswana should also be about the advantages that the country can leverage on, the strengths it can draw from and how these can help to abate the struggling economy and shape a renewed economic landscape.
The upside of unemployment, as it is cited by experts, is that it challenges and motivates those at the mercy of its wrath to reconstruct their mindsets to seeking job creation instead of a job. Lynette Nthuli, a successful South African entrepreneur in the property sector who had been invited to speak at the Afena Capital press meeting last year, decried that entrepreneurship is used as a band aid, which she explained as people who embark on entrepreneurship by circumstance and not by intent and design. This trend was later confirmed by The Business Place (TBP) in a previous interview with Sunday Standard, in which it cited that in most cases young Batswana want to start businesses for mere survival purposes, implying therefore that they operate as survivors as opposed to entrepreneurs. TBP was an entrepreneurial walk-in and resource centre that unfortunately closed down in 2015. Nthuli had also alluded to the limited economic exposure of entrepreneurship, highlighting that there exist limited realistic building blocks that allow start-up entrepreneurs to reference from. In reality, business failure is widely observed, which support the observations by Nthuli and TBP given that entrepreneurship ignited from such misaligned reasons result in the failure by entrepreneurs to establish scalable and sustainable businesses. Be that as it may, a lesson that renowned entrepreneurs relentlessly share is that failure is the backbone of entrepreneurship. Many of them assert that they used failure as a means of attaining success. Botswana has come a long way in supporting entrepreneurship as a way of reengineering a new growth and development path, but it has also experienced countless misses in this pursuit. The sprout of entrepreneurial initiatives such as Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), citizen economic empowerment, youth development and empowerment, financial and mentoring organs, prove this support. Perhaps that is where Botswana’s advantage lies. It lies in the availability of young skilled human resource with numerous experiences of entrepreneurial failure, hungrier than ever to overturn their past failures. This hunger and ambition meets a government that is still interested in empowering those willing to try their hand at entrepreneurship. The observed circumstances and experiences depict nuances of entrepreneurship, and the reality is that unemployment will not be easily wiped, but it does however portray an opportunity that can be used by both government and the skilled human resource to usher in a renewed economy.
A second advantage, based on meandering path that privatization has trudged, it is without a doubt a momentous feat that the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) launched its initial public offering (IPO). This is a process that has piled on years of setbacks and many times along the way deemed a mirage. BTCL is first in line to undergo transformation into a public company and it is the expectation that government will not take another decade to privatize the other earmarked parastatals. The observed heightened interest in the BTCL shares by Batswana is testament of their appetite to chart a new wealth creation territory that had traditionally being associated with a certain class of people. The stirred interest in Botswana is an opportunity that the local bourse, PEEPA and other relevant partners can ride on to inculcate knowledge and experience of taking part in the buying and selling of shares. The local bourse, being the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE), has in the past tirelessly aroused Batswana’s interest in the stock market but the response was not encouraging. BSE has put in a significant amount of effort into educating Batswana on the ins and outs of the stock market, the bigger picture of which is to grow and develop investment opportunities as a means of generating gainful economic activities. The BTCL IPO launch could therefore be seen as an opportunity to get Batswana involved in generating gainful economic activities through the wealth derived from buying and selling of shares. The primary engine of growth being government which in recent years has dramatically lost its steam can transfer its power into the hands of its people to take over the baton of growth and development.