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Entrepreneurs deaf to the Budget Speech

Publishing Date : 11 February, 2020


While the nation stopped everything and sat down to listen to Dr Thapelo Matsheka’s much anticipated Budget Speech which opens the country’s financial year, a small segment of the population who are referred to as entrepreneurs, were unfazed.

This is despite Matsheka’s Speech this week, which was directed more to that populous, and the current government’s stance on trying to share the economic burden of economic diversification with the private sector. Botswana wishes to see manufacturing meeting a big wave of industrialization and a big bang of young minds exploding while riding on the new 4th Industrial Revolution cloud, all towards the promised city; the high income economy.

Ministers and politicians who spoke to this publication after the reading of the Budget Speech have been saying government needs to empower the private sector for economic diversification. When coming from an international trip, President Mokgweetsi Masisi also made it clear that his government will not take responsibility for unemployment alone, as it should also be on the shoulders of the private sector.

Government will be, “creating a conducive environment for development, this is a deliberate effort by the Government to promote development of the private sector, which should be the source of economic growth and creation of employment opportunities, especially for the youth,” this should have been directed to ears of the private sector or the entrepreneurs.

On his personal LinkedIn profile, Matsheka may have had entrepreneurs on his mind when he said, “I am passionate about the development of people as they are the best legacy you can ever create for the country. Focus on people is the theme of my professional development. I just love to see them grow and achieve.”

But an entrepreneur, often described as one who conceptualizes a different and sometimes a unique idea into a business while taking risks without any source of funding but hoping for profit, does not put much attention on what Matsheka was saying when reading the Budget Speech.

However most of the entrepreneurs called to a panel discussion for the budget review by First National Bank Botswana this week, especially the young Ebraim Mahomed, see the Budget Speech as “nice like a movie…but half of it does not affect me.”
Mahomed said the budget is a framework for one to succeed and whatever may be seen as negative in the budget he sees it as a loophole waiting to be exploited and as a problem solver get positivity out of any opportunity that may arise. He said despite spite a long speech by the Minister of finance, an entrepreneur ought to “do your thing.”

Even though he did not put much emphasis on the speech, Tony Mautsu, another young entrepreneur said when he heard about more money being allocated to the defence assets, especially that he is not in that business of armaments, he asked why government invested more on these defence assets despite the country never being vulnerable to attacks.

Agri-entrepreneur Pearl Ranna, however was more perceptive and did not shy away from the opportunity to criticize government on continuing with what she called ‘‘failed agriculture programs’’ referring to the National Master Plan for Arable Agriculture and Dairy Development (NAMPAAD) and Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD) which she described as ‘‘useless’’.

Former lawyer, Lerumo Mogobe said the budget inspired him because it was being read by someone who was with the private sector. Matsheka was also with Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), an agency that funds entrepreneurial projects.