If entrepreneurship continues to be used as a fleeting solution, it gives little hope in transforming Botswana’s labour market

Entrepreneurship is being publicized as an important solution to the youth unemployment scourge. The problem according to Lynette Ntuli, a property entrepreneur, is that it is now being used as a band-aid, which basically means that it is only been used to temporarily improve the situation as opposed to providing a solid change to the economy. “It is therefore not surprising that the interest in startup culture and developing small business has increased exponentially in the last 5 years but it is still widely driven by circumstance as opposed to intent and carefully thought out design in our environment” she said.  Ntuli draws in three statements that argue in favour of the view she expressed. She asserts that firstly entrepreneurship is not a career of choice but rather of circumstance, secondly there are a few people that young people have the opportunity to look up to as an example to imitate as well as limited access to economic opportunities, and thirdly, the school system lacks compacted curriculum and educational reference to entrepreneurship.

In recognition of the fact that growth of markets necessitates activity, Ntuli posits that given the opportunity and support, entrepreneurs can positively contribute to the labour market. “Few entrepreneurs are born, but we have a widely untapped leadership and talent pool that can be taught to identify problems and gaps, construct solutions and sell these to a willing market that is prepared to part with a price to own these solutions,” she said.

Last week Tuesday, Stepping Stones International (SSI), an after school and community outreach program based in Mochudi, boldly shouldered the responsibility of bringing together government, the private sector and non-governmental organizations to draw attention to financial awareness as a tool young people can use to better their lives. SSI did not re-invent the wheel but simply used an existing international platform called Global Money Week to start the conversation on social and financial inclusion which is intended to safeguard a safer tomorrow through teaching young people about money, how to save, and constructing gainful employment through entrepreneurship.

Gazette Business established at the Global Money Week celebration that Botswana is guilty of using entrepreneurship as a band-aid. While entrepreneurship has often been lauded as a solution to the creation of jobs that many young people are in dire need of, governments’ efforts have not however moved at the same pace as the solutions. The lack of robust financial literacy in the education system and the exclusion of many people, especially those in rural communities, out of the financial system give credence that the efforts lack a backbone.

It was revealed that Botswana’s entire education system is presently undergoing reformation, which includes among other things, the development of clear career paths within it. The current education system has creative and performing arts (CAPA) in primary schools which according to the Ministry of Education includes as part of its teaching elements entrepreneurship and financial literacy. The challenge with CAPA as was disclosed is that due to its nature as a combined mix of subjects, teachers fall short in adequately delivering in all subjects it contains. Additionally, junior and senior secondary schools are said to include business and commerce subjects.

The Ministry of Education  and Skills and Development admitted that the curriculum is not offered as intended because it does not give learners the opportunity to choose subjects. It therefore means that very few students learn subjects with business skills. The Ministry added that the curriculum tries to make up for the shortfall through core subjects such as Mathematics, however, the challenge remains that business skills are not delivered deliberately and extensively to learners. The Ministry of Education to that end envisages that entrepreneurship and financial literacy subjects will, following reformation, be made accessible to all learners.