Africa-Press – Botswana. The custodians of the money sapping Youth Development Fund (YDF), Ministry of Youth has started receiving applications from prospective beneficiaries until 06 September this year.
The YDF is an initiative by the government to fund businesses started by young people between the age of 18 and 35. This year, despite public outcry that there is an increasing number of young people seeking to be funded, the available funds have been slashed from the previous funding period figure of P120 million to P104 million. At the same time the threshold for YDF financing remains at hundred thousand Pula for individuals and four hundred and fifty thousand for youth industries or co-operatives.
In addition to funding youth projects, P14.3 million will be reserved for completion and implementation of Special Projects such as development of Land-banks, mentorship partnerships and trainings.
Youth Minister Tumiso Rakgare said this past week that the government will also consider funding existing self-financed youth businesses, with evidence of proper financial records and attractive prospects for expansion and job creation and also Partnerships, Cooperatives and Youth Industries in any of the stipulated preferred sectors.
He stated that the positive contribution of the Youth Development Fund to the economic empowerment of young people cannot be downplayed adding that youth owned businesses continue to thrive and operate in the harsh business environment, where they compete with established, well-resourced businesses run by seasoned citizens.
Rakgare stated that even though they remain concerned about some of the issues threatening the existence of youth funded businesses, they have partnered with various stakeholders to help them address the issues.
“We have acknowledged challenges faced by Youth Start-ups, and do not wish to dwell on them here today. High rentals, lack of operational space, lack of skills and high costs of utilities continue to adversely affect youth businesses,”
“Government, in partnership with various partners, have worked together to address some of these problems. Through our advocacy, relevant Ministries have given reservations to youth businesses. Our partners continue to provide skills and training to our youth as a way of addressing some of the above challenges,” he said.
Rakgare added that in order to ensure uninterrupted service delivery to the youth, the two Ministries being Youth and that of Entrepreneurship have agreed to implement the 2022-2023 YDF under the Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture adding that the main aims of the YDF remain the same for this financial year, being among other things to create jobs, develop entrepreneurship, reduce the import bill and ensure food security. Rakgare told parliament on Friday that P2 million will be shared equally across constituencies to ensure that young people benefit from the program. He said government will give priority funding to Manufacturing, Agriculture and its value chain, Agro and Eco-Tourism, Technology and Innovation.