On Saturday, 18 student-owned companies from four universities in Botswana presented their business concepts before a panel of judges and audiences where only three managed to win the monetary prizes to scale their ideas.
The four are Botho University, University of Botswana (UB), Botswana Accountancy College (BAC), and Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST). After blowing the judges away with their splendid pitch, Maru Farms walked away with P50,000 while Lenko Scents scooped P30,000 as they won second place, and Columba scooped the third position winning P20,000. The Entrepreneurship Challenge theme was 'Motho o kgona go rutiwa bogwebi'. The winning team's award includes preliminary entrepreneurship development and mentorship.
The Entrepreneurship Challenge is one of Debswana's Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development Programme's (EEDP) initiatives. According to Debswana Finance Performance Analyst, Onneile Maripe, the challenge was a way of introducing real and practical ways of developing an entrepreneurial mindset, personal development, and elite business acumen in learners of higher education. She added that through Debswana's partnership with TheNeoHub innovation lab, the Entrepreneurship Challenge acquired higher education learners with a balanced blend of first-in-class entrepreneurial skills and a successful mindset to create ideas and subsequently test their problem-solving adequacy. She further explained that Debswana's focus on making life brilliant for all Batswana is a strategic imperative that is driven by entrepreneurial activity, mindset change, collaboration and partnerships.
"Ultimately, the challenge is a path through indigenous solutions that create employment and most importantly generate a pipeline of high-value young Batswana entrepreneurs. It is through this active contribution to entrepreneurial activity Debswana can significantly contribute to competitive innovation development among young Batswana, seamless articulation from higher learning to a high-level commercial performance by youth starter-ups and an elite entrepreneurial mindset approach to problem-solving across general areas of life. This pilot challenge provided students with an opportunity to explore and test ideas in a rigorous, fun, and supportive environment. Application registrations were done through the Build platform created by young developers from TheNeoHub," Maripe explained.
A total of 217 applications are said to have been received from the four partner universities where they were assessed by a panel of judges and 18 were selected to make it through the second phase. Before the grand finale, the 18 chosen student-owned companies were taken to a boot camp where activities were broken down into sections as follows; business model design, IP awareness, entrepreneurial journey sharing feedback in the applications, mental health corner, and presentation skills.