The Tokafala programme now in its fifth year held a graduation ceremony last Thursday at Oasis Motel in Tlokweng.
Tokafala was started in 2014 as a collaboration of four partners; Botswana Government, De Beers, Debswana and Anglo American who continue to fund the project 100% hitherto.
For implementation Tokafala partnered with non-governmental organisation, TechnoServe that operates in 29 countries and has over 50 years of experience. Tokafala Hub manager, Victor Monggae said they work with enterprising people in the developing world to harness the power that is there, especially in the private sector.
“We are part of the private sector. We work with farms, industries and anybody else willing to uplift themselves from poverty. When you work with TechnoServe you have a very able bodied partner,” he said.
The donors, most of who are in the mining industry, want to leave a legacy of economically active people instead of just holes hence the Tokafala project. The enterprise development and youth programme are the key projects which Monggae said they started with and more than 600 people having gone through the scheme supporting 3,450 jobs while creating 400 jobs.
In the last five years P22.4 million has been mobilised for the Tokafala projects. Beneficiary businesses have amassed P112.1 million in revenue growth, which is a 36% rise.
The Youth Programme however was piloted in Jwaneng and Letlhakane with about 210 unemployed youth. The programme, according to Monggae is dubbed Strengthening Youth Through Enterprice, which ran for three months.
“We gave them skills to be able to go out there and present themselves to potential employers or start their own businesses. In addition we gave them what we call After Care,” explained Monggae.
“Those who wanted to start businesses worked on their business plans with the help of mentors until they are in a state they can be presented to potential investors. Those who wanted jobs were coached on how to present themselves in job interviews and a lot of them were employed in and outside the mining industry.”
The businesses are categorised into micro, small and medium. The micros go through an Advisory programme because they are new to business and there is a lot they need to learn.
Monggae said the programme is further aimed at improving their resilience and viability to ensure growth to small businesses. He however added that a lot of commitment is required
“When they get to the small level we ensure they are commercially viable and at that stage it’s easy to scale up because anybody can invest in the business,” he said.
With medium businesses he said they were empowered to be able to attract international market. He said they assess the strategic direction of the businesses.
For the next phase, which will last for three years; Tokafala will focus on youth development, enterprise development, value chain directed market access and Small, Medium & Micro Enterprise Businesses ecosystem. The youth and enterprise development projects however will be slightly different in the new phase with emphasis on identifying markets for the businesses.
Monggae said they would also be working on value chains, which he noted were largely unexplored. He urged the graduates to continue researching to improve products and add value.
Furthermore, he revealed that currently they had engaged consultants to help consolidate the areas to work on.
Donors have reportedly already identified mining, agro-processing/horticulture, textiles as well as tourism as the four of those areas to work on. He however said they would continue working with the others and giving them support.
They would further ensure that the skills gained in the past five years of the Tokafala project together with Tech Serve’s experience will be passed to other intermediary organisations such as Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency and Local Enterprise Authority.
After receiving their certificates, graduation gown clad entrepreneurs expressed their gratitude to Tokafala. Some said they knew nothing about business when they joined the programme.
They reported to have gained confidence, learnt book-keeping, negotiation and market research as well as budgeting and marketing while others gained confidence in what they already knew.
Gao Mmusi of Gao Rabbits said when she joined the programme she was producing 300 chickens, but had grown to 400 after learning about market penetration and record keeping and has gained confidence.
Tiny Boitumelo Motseothata of Cross Destiny said she was having trouble broadening her customer base.
“But Tokafala taught me how to negotiate and sign contracts and now Cross Destiny is growing and we have asked for funding and have two contracts with restaurants,” she added.