Ghantsi municipality has twined up with its Swedish counterpart, Ale, to embark on a youth empowerment program that sees local young people, mainly from Ghanzi’s rural settlements acquiring some advanced entrepreneurship skills that would in the shot to long term benefit the local people.
Started in 2013, the program has already benefitted 30 young people, all unemployed and out of school, and the plan is to roll the initiative to the larger Ghanzi District society.
William Mphala, principal economist at Gansti District Council says his District Council was competing for the slot to partner with the Swedish municipality with other resource rich districts such as Chobe, and Ngamiland, but at the end Ghanzi’s presentation won, paving the way for the partnership that has since seen reciprocal visits between Ghantsi and Ale towns.
Mphala says they won all thanks to their presentation on Ghanzi’s rich language and culture, as well as the challenges that the district faces as one of the least four developed in the country. A memorandum of understanding between the two municipalities was signed in Sweden in 2012 and projects were formulated around the guidelines.
Mphala says they learnt that in Sweden youth entrepreneurship development is part of the school syllabus at a young age, something that helps instil entrepreneurship spirit in the pupils as they grow in life.
Mphala says they were introduced to the Young Entrepreneurs in Europe(YEE) concept which the Ghanzi group in turn adopted as the Young Entrepreneurs in Africa. To give it an African feel, the Ghanzi municipality has since roped in their close western neighbours,Namibia, whose youth groups have not missed the training sessions since day one.
His counterpart Nancy Lwambula says youth for the entrepreneurship workshops c were taken from their 12 settlements. In fact last year when the workshop was held for the second time in Botswana, Ghanzi chose to host it in a Basarwa settlement of D’kar, where about 16 locals were empowered.
Lwambula says the youths learn how to formulate business plans that were presented to the local business community at the end of the workshop, in an effort to sell the business ideas to prospective investors.
“ Some of the youths were either already doing business projects, or waiting to be funded, while some were still in the early stages of applying for funding, so the workshop came in handy for all of them”, enthuses Lwambula.
Lwambula says entrepreneurship, as taught to the youths is not just about starting your own businesses; it is also about being innovative in your own environment and place of work. She gives an example about one of the products of these collaborative workshops who went on to transform a Ghanzi hardware business in an amazing way. “ He was just an employee, but the innovative ideas he contributed, leading to the growth of that business, resulted in his employer rewarding him handsomely; he is now a shareholder in the business”, explains Lwambula. Lwambula says going forward, it is the Ghanzi District Council’s dream to see the program expanded to include not only the out of school; “ We would love to see it in our schools, benefiting the young people from a young age; we have been assured by our partners that this can be possible.
The partnership with Ale is championed by a Steering Committee with mayors, project coordinators, CEO’s, principal economists, opposition Councillor.
The Ghanzi District Council officials say another aspect of this partnership is Citizen Dialogue; which encourages the involvement of citizens in all decision-making processes.
Dialoguing is not just for academics, all concerned groups in our communities have to be taken on board about development plans that are being formulated for them, so that we take into account their views, explains Mphala. The Citizen dialogue was held in the district as recently in March and was attended by communities of Chobokwane, Karakubis New Xade, among others, as they learnt their roles in a democracy.