The hard work of partners in an entrepreneurial initiative, Itsose Business Competition, finally paid dividends when the best 10 were announced at a function at the Gaborone Sun on Tuesday.
Itsose is a competition launched by First National Bank of Botswana (FNBB) in partnership with the Local Enterprise Authority, the University of Botswana and Sunday Standard newspaper.
CEO of FNBB, Lorato Boakgomo-Ntakhwana, revealed at the function to announce the winners that Itsose emerged as a concept at the bank to afford an opportunity to many locals who, under normal circumstances, would be disadvantaged to access finance because of their economic status.
“The vision we had was to ensure the development of entrepreneurial skills to both existing and new businesses,” she stated.
“Normally, with these types of competitions, entrepreneurs to be are requested to prepare a business plan to present to the judges. We asked all interested Batswana over 18 years to submit a form so that, together with our partners, we can educate them on how to write a proper business plan. Our only requirement was that the entrepreneur to be must have a sound business idea.”
From these business ideas, together with FNBB partners, UB Business Clinic, and LEA, top 100 finalists were trained on how to prepare a proper business plan.
Boakgomo-Ntakhwana stated that the reason behind Itsose is because the economy needs more successful small business entrepreneurs and felt FNBB as good corporate citizens to actively assist in the development of entrepreneurship in Botswana.
“Secondly, we understand that the obstacles in the way of becoming an entrepreneur are many,” she said, adding that access to finance can be difficult, business skills are often lacking and aspiring business owners often identify opportunities that seem attractive, but are not commercially viable.
The winners of the competition cut across all the sectors mainly in agriculture.
The list is made up of Moagi Kelerile, who is in the agriculture sector under beekeeping sub sector. Tumo Kabelo Kgopo, fog trapping system under manufacturing.
The others are Setaung Mist Setaung for Safari Services, Thomas Bika, piggery, Elliot Leo Phindela, dairy milk, Mosimanegape Eric Malepu, selling condoms.
Darryl Frank Ellitson, flight academy, Kefentse Masimolole, media company, Tiroyaone B. Barungwi, Art & Craft and Thabo Ntshinogang for a soccer academy.
The 10 winners were chosen from the 100 that were trained on how to develop a business plan.
Boakgomo-Ntakhwana stated that the vision is to see more small businesses flourish revealing small businesses account for between 40-70 percent of all economic activity in Africa.
The winners are expected to receive funding from FNBB and get a non financial assistance from Local Enterprises Authority (LEA).
“It has been an exciting journey for us,” declared the CEO in reference to the partnership they had to establish Itsose.
The competition was an indication of how Batswana are hungry to owning their looking at the number of entries as there are about 2800 potential entrepreneurs who tried their luck.
The initiative is designed to fast track the start up and growth of businesses owned by Botswana citizens aged 18 years and above and to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst Batswana.
Itsose was launched last year November to promote entrepreneurship, including small business development in the country.
Earlier in the year, it was revealed that about 58 percent of the entrants were business ideas with 14 percent having been in business for less than 6 months.
For his part, the assistant minister at Trade and Industry, Duke Lefhoko, called for other banks to join FNBB in allowing the flow of capital to SMMEs.