The Entrepreneurial and Cultural Pride Expo (ECPE) which was first launched in 2011 is back again for the third year running. The three day cultural exhibition event scheduled for August is the brain child of Thandi Phiri, a young entrepreneur whose aim is to facilitate access to markets as well as stimulating growth for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.
“We link this to the promotion of a deeper understanding of the role of culture and cultural exchanges locally and regionally,” Phiri says, “I also feel that cultural diversity within Botswana, of both the local and the international community, has more value to offer. I believe our dynamic cultures still have many possible income generating opportunities, which, when investigated further, will inform, inspire and impact a positive outflow of something unique from our communities.”
Phiri, like many other young people, says the initiative was inspired by frustration borne out of a high dependence on employment for an income.
She says the event pays particular attention to entrepreneurially challenged demographics like women, youth and small medium enterprises (SMEs).
“Our platform caters to an otherwise ignored segment of small businesses who are perhaps too small to participate in more established expos, yet have great potential and finesse in their work ,” she explains.
Some of the events planned for the three days will include an entrepreneurship forum to be facilitated by experienced achievers from various fields where participants shall be drilled on topics related to the concept of entrepreneurship and culture. The other segment of the expo, typically dubbed ‘Afro-lize Me’ is an evening show where designers get to exhibit their African inspired designs and products. Last year’s event included a fashion parade where Lebang Seetso’s leather garments outshone the rest and were chosen as the overall winner and Phiri promises a bigger and better show this year.
The objectives of the ECPE include teaching people in the creative and cultural industry on how to be more entrepreneurial using inherent talent, learned characteristics, attributes and skills; engage in the exploration of culture as a tool for inspiration, education and, restored pride and respect in the diverse cultural identities; providing technical skills to enhance the production of services in a sustainable, professional and efficient manner as well as identifying linkages, development platforms and partnerships for the exposure and distribution of the finished product/service.
As a word of encouragement to fellow youth, Phiri says they should not doubt themselves because everyone has something of value to offer.
“Get exposure, try new things, meet new people, share your ideas and this will stir up your creative juices. Always keep learning and look for the practical-simple-how-to information to keep you moving … attitude and passion are key ingredients to growth,” she advises.
The ECPE is scheduled for the end of August at Bojanala Water Front.