Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) has graduated 10 more entrepreneurs this year under their Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (YEP), which was incepted two years ago.
The programme that is done in collaboration with South Africa’s University of Stellenbosch, is aimed at exposing young entrepreneurs to the diamond market by providing academic as well as entrepreneurial skills.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony recently, ODC Chair of Remuneration Committee, Dr Khaulani Fichani said that the company has injected about P2 million for the past two years into the programme for training, developing entrepreneurs as well helping them with the business proposals whenever necessary.
“ Unemployment is a challenge in the country and entrepreneurs are the other solution to help in this regard, hence the reason we have decided to develop and groom them so that they realise their dreams and create employment in return. This is what all stakeholders must be doing to help contribute towards the economic growth of the country,” he said.
According to Fichani, stakeholders need to take part in empowering entrepreneurs with their innovative solutions that can help diversify the economy. He said that the country is moving away from just mining diamonds as more focus has been shifted to the diamond value chain. “The diamond industry is very challenging and our graduates would not have it simple and will have to work
This seven months programme accords the 10 selected entrepreneurs an opportunity to develop their business ideas. Last year, the programme graduated their first 10 graduates. Applications for the programme usually open in May followed by training which starts in August. As part of the training the participants engage in workshops, get exposed to first hand training at the diamond companies.
“They also get the entrepreneurship training at the World Diamond Manufacturing Botswana to equip them with the relevant skills that upon completion of this programme, they would have to apply in their businesses,” he said. On his part, ODC Managing Director, Marcus ter Haar said that the programme provides the right channel for the diamond industry as they equip participants with insights about the industry markets as well as trends.
This year, over 100 participants submitted applications and only 30 of those were interviewed through the telephone followed by the shortlisted 20 who did oral interviews where the top 10 finalists were selected.