Kickstart, an initiative by the Kgalagadi Beverages Trust, in continuing to empower the youth economically by providing them with capital to start their own businesses and to expand on the already existing ones, this week hosted its 4th Kickstart Annual Business Awards.
Four Batswana youths were each awarded P100 000 while the fifth one got P70 000.
Speaking at the event held at the Phakalane Golf Estates on Thursday, the Minister of Youth Sport and Culture, Moeng Pheto, said that the youth population of Botswana is more than half of this country’s total population and they face many challenges.
“These challenges include, among others, unemployment, poverty, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy,” he explained, adding that it is for this reason that a National Youth Policy and National Action Plan were put in place by the government to specifically address the concerns and needs of the youth.
The minister said the scheme is of greater relevance to the needs of this country. He said the step by Kgagaladi Beverages Trust does not only augment their efforts as government, but that it is also a sign of responsibility by a private sector company.
Pheto announced that since its inception, Kickstart has funded thirteen entrepreneurs.
“Now there are eighteen entrepreneurs sponsored by this scheme, including the five aspiring entrepreneurs funded today. The positive impact that this has is encouraging. The scheme would have created forty-eight permanent jobs so far,” he stated.
It is worth noting, he said, that service provision of these enterprises has been to places such as Tsabong, Kasane and Maunatlala, just to mention a few and he added that it is evident that in years to come, the magnitude of the difference made by Kickstart in addressing youth unemployment would be immense.
Pheto said just 13 months ago, the government decided to establish the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture to strategically intensify its efforts in tackling youth matters. He said it is for this reason that the Out of School Youth Grant has since been increased from P3 million to P30 million during the 2006/2007 financial year.
“Late last year, the CEDA Young Farmers Fund was established. I encourage the youth to be aware of these important programmes because they are intended to assist them to increase opportunities for employment in our country,” he said.
Pheto appealed to the youth to be ready to face the challenges of today’s life. He said they should exploit opportunities with vigor and perseverance.
“The future of this country rests with you, and this calls for your highest level of responsibility in life. This event is a testimony that we have the youth who are committed in life. I applaud you for the work,” he said.
The minister highlighted that the youth issues are diverse and cross cutting and, therefore, calls for all stakeholders to emulate and expand what Kgalagadi Beverage Trust had embarked on.
“I would like to appeal to other members of the private sector to emulate Kgalagadi Beverages Trust youth empowerment and assist the government in youth empowerment programmes. Our investment on the youth population should be seen as key to our economic development and sustainable development.”