YDF beneficiaries dodge loan repayment workshop

Young entrepreneurs in the Gaborone district who benefited from the Youth Development Fund (YDF) shunned a loan repayment workshop that was organised for them on Monday.

The workshop, which was convened by the YDF Gaborone district office under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, was targeted at the funded youth who are defaulting on their loan repayments.

Despite the low attendance by the youth, the workshop carried on with about 10 out of the 60 invited beneficiaries in attendance.

The Chairman of the Gaborone District Economic Development Committee (DEDC), Tebogo Tshoswane told this publication that the workshop was not meant to ‘trap’ the defaulting youth as some may have thought.

“We just wanted to have an interaction with them and establish why they are not able to repay the loan component,” he said.

He added that the workshop was also meant to map a way forward and come up with solutions on how to address the issue.

During the discussions, it was established that most of the youth that had attended the workshop were in default of payments of their loans. This was mainly attributed to challenges of performance of the projects.

Tshoswane indicated that the interaction with the youth helps since the YDF office has not been sharing enough information with the beneficiaries.

“For instance, we realised that the issue of refinancing whereby the youth can apply for extra funds during their business operation, has not reached out to most of them,” he said.

He indicated that the ministry is conducting a countrywide tracer study to gather more information about the beneficiaries, including the total number of beneficiaries that are in the country, and so on.

YDF started in 2008, but the ministry does not have proper records of the number of clients or failed projects. While the figures were not made readily available, it is estimated that the loan repayment arrears owed to the YDF office amounts to millions of Pula.

The youth who were at the workshop highlighted various challenges that they encounter which they said hinder them from making loan repayments.

Some of the challenges ranged from high rentals, lack of markets for their produce and competition from other players in the business.

Others complained that the grace period allowed for the loan repayments is too short, while others complained about the late payments by the government after procurement of jobs.

Gaborone town clerk, Mpho Mathe assured the beneficiaries of the funds that the main objective of the discussions was not to be confrontational, but to come up with ideas to solve the problems that they encounter in running their start-ups.

“The idea of government giving out funds to the youth is meant to bring results and thereby contributing to the reduction of unemployment. All we need is to assist these youth,” he said.

Mathe further encouraged young entrepreneurs not to give up when their businesses fail, stating that failure is also good for them, especially in business.

“How can you learn when you have never failed?” he asked. However, the town clerk said some of the problems that the young entrepreneurs face are due to their own recklessness. He said a lot of them do not take account of their budgets and their suppliers are not accounted for. “Others do not use the funds that they are allocated on the proposed projects, but rather on personal undertakings like buying luxurious cars,” said Mathe.

He further said that the youth should be the ones that take responsibility of their actions when running their businesses.

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