Itsose Business Competition, the brainchild of the First National Bank, in partnership with the Local Enterprise Authority, the University of Botswana and Sunday Standard, Wednesday unveiled the names of the 100 competition finalists to compete for the 10 prestigious winning places in Botswana biggest-ever entrepreneur competition.
Launched last year in November to promote entrepreneurship, including small business development in the country, the competition saw a stunning swell of more than 2800 potential entrepreneurs, whose offerings, among others include a combination of cash and access to business funding not to mention business nurturing and mentoring provided by LEA, try their luck.
An initiative of its kind, Itsose competition lured a considerable number of potential entrepreneurs, most importantly the rural folks – a rare scenario the pioneers admit never anticipated.
“Choosing the potential candidates for this competition was a daunting task with more than the half of the entrants coming from places outside Gaborone. Batswana are enthusiastic to go into business. Individuals and companies from as far as Ghanzi and Maun participated in the competition,” said FNBB Head of Business Banking, Tsholofelo Kokorwe.
Possibly spurred on by government, soft initiatives, which include, among others, CEDA and ISPAAD, Kokorwe said most of the finalists were into agriculture and tourism.
One of the judges, Elliot Odirile, echoed the same sentiments: “Batswana are enthusiastic to go into business as evidenced by the response to the competition. About 58 percent of the entrants were business ideas with 14 percent having been in business for less than 6 months.
“This means that we are looking at 70 percent of our entrants as being start-ups, which indicates a growing level of entrepreneurship in our country.”
For her part, the optimistic Oratile Moremong of FNBB admitted the Itsose competition had opened many doors for potential entrepreneurs adding, “Were are very excited at being part of this project to take these finalists from the stage of basic business ideas to proper business plans.”
The 100 finalists will go through an intensive training programme with LEA to be assisted in preparing their formal business plans.
Kokorwe said the winners will be announced at a gala event scheduled for September 2009, where after they will receive laptops, cellphones, cash, as well as access to preferential funding from FNBB.