BY CEDRIC SWANKA
Globally, more and more companies are being founded by women. The same is true for Botswana as more and more women are beginning to develop a keen interest in owning and running a business.
Tokafala – an initiative between mining giants Debswana and DeBeers that helps in implementation of Enterprise Development Programmes in Botswana is seen as a key contributor to the growth of womenpreneurs in Botswana.
Robert Wiggins, Programme Director at Tokafala said female participation in Tokafala has increased significantly from 30 percent in 2014 to over 40 percent in 2018 thanks to focused efforts, to promote the Tokafala programme to women.
Over the life of Tokafala’s first phase, 40 percent of Tokafala’s graduate businesses have been female-owned.
“Gender plays an important role in Tokafala and will play an even bigger role going forward”, Wiggins said.
Quizzed on what they are doing to encourage female entrepreneurship Wiggins said Tokafala will include a new gender module in the Basic Business Training, engaging participants in discussions of gender in the business world, including challenges and biases that can be faced by women and men, as well as strategies to address and overcome them.
With institutions like Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency, Local Enterprise Authority already established to help SMEs in Botswana, Wiggins shared difference between them and why they should be the next door to knock at for Batswana who want to own a business.
Tokafala is designed to complement other SME support initiatives. For example, Tokafala does not provide any financing, but helps business owner access finance from financing institutions such as CEDA and YDF (and commercial banks) through business plan support and financial modelling. He said
This model has proved highly effective without duplicating services. It further assists enterprises that are already established as compared to those intending to start. He continued.
The Program which is said to be dedicated at helping existing micro, small and medium enterprises in Botswana to grow their businesses, for entrepreneurs looking to develop their company. For this year Wiggins revealed that Tokafala will also include a youth development component that will target youths across the country. The Tokafala programme contributes to support economic diversification and employment creation through development of sustainable citizen owned enterprises and strengthening skills of the youth.
Currently located in Botswana`s more urban areas, Wiggins highlighted that they will soon expand their reach to more rural areas and less reached areas, as he said the Tokafala programme will grow its geographic scope far beyond its existing operations in Gaborone and Francistown, moving into more rural areas.
The next phase of Tokafala will be funded at a tune of USD4 million dollars over a period of 3 years. The first five years of the Tokafala programme commenced in January 2014 and ended on December 2018. Money amounting to $4million dollars were allocated in the funding.