FRANCISTOWN: Budding entrepreneurs in Francistown have pleaded with the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) to increase their incubation period to at least three years from the current two years.
The concerned entrepreneurs currently occupy the LEA business incubators situated at the Francistown light industrial area.
The entrepreneurs are accommodated at the incubators for a period of two years paying a subsidised rental fee. They are accommodated at subsidised rental to help them grow their business before going on their own.
LEA also assists them with business coaching.
They believe that the two-year incubation period is not enough for a budding business to solidify itself. The entrepreneurs made their desire to see the period being increased by a year recently during a media tour organised by LEA.
“Usually, the first year during the incubation period the business would be struggling operationally. The second year involves the marketing phase. “After completing the two stages, the business will then enter a stage where it will be solidifying its position in the market. I believe the incubation period should be increased to three years so that the business moves when it has already solidified its position in the market,” said Dimpho Madema of Miracle Steel.
Miracle Steel manufactures door and window frames as well as burglar bars. Madema said chances of the business folding when it leaves the incubators without a solid foundation are very high. Roedolf Alberts of Metal Mania also said that LEA should consider increasing the incubation period
“Usually businesses take an average of three years to be fully established. Rental prices are very high and when a business moves out of the incubators when it is still fledging there is likelihood that it will not afford the rent and it will inevitably collapse,” he said.
Esnath Mafale of Elite Chemicals echoed sentiments raised by both Alberts and Madema.
“LEA should also not make it compulsory for businesses to move out of the incubators after two years. They should assess businesses.
“Those that are fit to leave the incubators should be let go. Those that cannot stand on their own should be allowed to utilise the incubators and leave only when they are ready to do so,” Mafale said.
LEA communications manager, Wanetsha Mosinyi said the organisation welcomes the idea to increase the incubation period beyond two years. He however, said it is difficult to implement the idea owing to some factors amongst them resource constraints.
“We have a limited number of incubators, but there are many upcoming entrepreneurs who want to use them. This is why taking the incubation period to three years is a bit difficult for us.”
Mosinyi noted that LEA would consider increasing the incubation period to beyond two years only when the organisation has secured more incubators.