Young entrepreneurs last week converged at Fairgrounds for the annual youth business expo which is powered by the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development.
Now in its third year, the youth expo provides a platform for young entrepreneurs to market their products and services over a period of a week. Also the expo is seen as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to network, share ideas and eventually collaborate.
Since its inception, the expo has been growing in leaps and bounds, attracting young entrepreneurs across the country, and potential investors. During the 2017 expo, 1,575 youth attended the business seminars offered while 600 participated at the exhibition. Many young people in Botswana are being forced into entrepreneurship as prospects of finding a job are few and far between.
The expo coincides with the Youth Development Fund applications which are coming to close end of May, also part of the Ministry’s efforts to encourage unemployed people to get into business. The YDF offers young people P100, 000 funding opportunity, part in grant and loan. This year’s YDF budget is estimated at P120 million, with each constituency getting P2 million each to disburse.
Despite efforts by the government to promote entrepreneurship among young people, the results have not been pleasing. For starters, most of the YDF projects fail in the first five years, while many of them fail to repay back the money. ‘
The young entrepreneurs have consistently complained about the tough trading environment which can be brutally challenging to inexperienced business owners. Moreover, entrepreneurs say the funding comes short hence projects end up collapsing as they cannot refinance. Nonetheless, most are satisfied with the expo as they get to air their views to relevant people, while also scouting for potential partnerships.
This year’s expo runs from 29th May to the 3rd June. Entrance is free for the members of public.