MAOKANE: While the government’s Youth Development Fund (YDF) is seen as a boon for aspiring youth entrepreneurs, some beneficiaries like Emmanuel Rabakwena have a different story to tell.
The 30-year-old resident of Maokane, who was funded to start a stock feed centre in his home village, has been disadvantaged by the 50% government subsidy for livestock feeds, which he was excluded from.
This means he was forced to compete with other established retailers that were included in the subsidy, hence the mark down of prices. When Monitor Business visited his business in Maokane, 40 kilometres from Jwaneng, there was evidence of expired feeds and a sight of tshupa (pantry pests - could be moth, beetles and weevils), which destroyed the fully-packed bags. He described his ordeal as a sorry state to mention because he was hoping to amass customers who will be sponsored through YDF, LIMID and poverty eradication. “I feel sorry for myself, I saw a government truck delivering stock feeds to beneficiaries though they know that I have been sponsored by the same government to do this business.
They buy elsewhere at a subsidised 50% and I might close and seek other sources of income because I am afraid that I will be dragged before court if I fail to pay back the loan,” he said. The 30-year-old, who explained that he was prohibited from selling vaccines and drugs because of limited qualification and expertise in that field, feels helpless and hard done by.
When he applied for the fund in 2013, he was targeting places surrounding his village Lorolwane and then Gasita, Thankane, Samane, Mabule and Mokhomma. He started operating last year and the government subsidised stock feed by 25% and added another 25% the same year, which ultimately means
The business started with challenges of operational space and he had to spend money to make the place conducive for operation. When he thought it was time to reap the fruits of his labour, things fell apart. Rabakwena is of the view that economic empowerment does not exist in his district because he could have been assisted by the same youth office, knowing very well that they have channelled more than P99,000 towards his business.
He also decries high rental, which has increased his woes, particularly at a time business is not doing well. He mentioned that it would have been better if the government secured business places for them. Rabakwena’s nightmare is known to his Member of Parliament, Alfred Madigela and youth office in Mabutsane, but no fruitful action has been taken. The nine-month-old business has left the father-of-one regretting his decision to heed the call for youth empowerment through entrepreneurship, as he quit being a counsellor.
However, all is not lost as Rabakwena is fighting day and night to make sure that he motivates his inner being not to throw in the towel. He advised that success is the best revenge and his story should not perhaps demoralise other youth to take advantage of government programmes, but to be strong and stand for business challenges that come their way. Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture‘s district coordinator in the Southern District, Phinias Kgare said they are aware of Rabakwena‘s condition.