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Olopeng challenges youth to be global entrepreneurs

Publishing Date : 13 November, 2017


Minister of Youth Empowerment Sport & Cultural Development Thapelo Olopeng has challenged Batswana youth entrepreneurs to come up with business ideas targeting the regional & continental market as well as a global consumer space.

Olopeng made this call to young entrepreneurs at the De Beers Entrepreneurship Catalyst Summit at the University of Botswana this week. The minister conceded that Botswana’s population was too small to sustain larger entrepreneurial undertakings and said that his government was acknowledging of the fact that unemployment was a challenge is Botswana-hence the need for entrepreneurship to grow.   

The De Beers Entrepreneurship Catalyst Summit is a youth empowerment, interactive platform that aims at enabling, inspiring as well as igniting and exciting the youth of Botswana towards changing an innovative idea into a sustainable business for the next 50 years. The forum is held every year in the sidelines of the DeBeers Diamond week which constitutes a high profile Diamond Conference, the conference was officiated by His Excellency Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama at the GICC on Tuesday.  

Minister Olopeng told the young entrepreneurs that they needed to change their mindset and think outside the box “Young entrepreneurs are not braggers, the results speak for them and they don’t look out for handouts but rather come up with initiatives to even empower others,” he said. The Minister also observed that Botswana seats on over 200 billion tonnes of coal deposit and urged innovative youth to explore opportunities in the industrialization value chains. He also said on the other hand young innovators needed to come up with ideas to explore gaps in green technology. “Young people need now to come up with green technology solutions, design and manufacturing of solar panels as we also move to venture into that energy,” he said.

The former army captain also shared his journey from working for government and taking a leap into entrepreneurship saying his strong values were perseverance and not giving up when the going got tough. “I made up my mind that I didn’t want to work for anybody and the first 2 years I was struggling but to me those were my best university of Business years, experience is the best teacher!”

Lack of intellectual property protection demoralises entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship involves intellectual crafts that are formulated by GOD given talent and creative observation of opportunities and gaps in the existing business space. It has been established at a number of dialogue platforms and interactive workshops that Botswana protection framework on intellectual property specifically in the area of entrepreneurial ideas and viable crafts is not as sound as it is supposed to be.

This was reiterated last week during various views exchange seminars in the sidelines of the Global Expo and even including at the De Beers Entrepreneurship Catalyst Summit on Wednesday. Young people who attended the discussions revealed that they presented ideas to investment agencies and become unsuccessful only to see the idea implemented by some else who has ties with officials within the financial agencies. “In most cases the ideas are poorly implemented because we didn’t share the same vision and go how with the armchair entrepreneur who illegally inherited the idea” asserted one of the attendants at the intellectual property seminar held last week Thursday.

It also emerged from one of the International investment & trade conference plenary sessions that some investment and financial institutions do not have confidentiality arrangements during the presentation of business ideas by entrepreneurs. Managing Director at Investec Asset Management Botswana, Martinus Seboni who is also Chairman of Companies & Intellectual Properties Authority (CIPA) last week conceded that the intellectual property protection guidelines in the area of entrepreneurial ideas and craft were not as sound as they should be.

Seboni however noted that currently CIPA was reviewing the guidelines and the framework will be discussed at the ongoing 11th parliament session. Chief Executive Officer of Debswana Pension Fund, Gosego January said that the law had to clearly bind investors and private equity firms not to disclose nor use ideas and entrepreneurial patents against the consent of the owner, saying that her organization has a clear confidentiality clause before even opening one investment proposal. “It is also equally important for entrepreneurs to register their patents and creations with relevant authorities before approaching investors in order to protect their intellectual properties,” she said.



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