Masisi optimistic for Botswana youth as Forbes Summit continues

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi says his government is focused on transforming young people of Botswana into diamonds that will never end.

Masisi who was speaking at the ongoing Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit said he is fortunate to lead a country that is basking in the energy of young people that are ready to take on the challenges of entrepreneurship and embrace opportunities.

This week, Botswana gathered 200 local young entrepreneurs, 35 years and younger along side 400 others from Africa and the world. The Summit was a culmination of President Masisi's efforts in Davos, where he expressed an interest for government to partner with Forbes to host the Under 30 Summit on African soil for the first time.

What excites President Masisi the most is that young people are more positioned to create change, as they are wired for innovation and are comfortable with taking risks.

He said the new Ministry of Entrepreneurship, announced last week is expected to bring change in the landscape of entrepreneurship in Botswana in digitization, technology, innovation, disruptions and will enhance connections between local entrepreneurs and those across the world. He also hopes that it will go a long way in guiding young entrepreneurs to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), further noting that the population of Botswana is relatively small therefore they should look further afield to expand their businesses.

He urged the delegates to never give up, try new ideas and constantly learn new things. “Lean on strong people who have succeeded before you,” he said, adding that entrepreneurs should be frugal.

Kgomotso Phatsima, the country's first female military pilot shared with the audience that they have to be ready to venture into unchartered territories. She said if she had allowed her background to stand in the way, she would not be where she is today.

“People will tell you that you will not make it. Because I was from a poor background, I was told that I would not make it, but I did,” said Phatsima, who is now actively involved in empowering young boys and girls to pursue careers in STEM.

Former Miss Botswana, Emma Wareus concurred that entrepreneurs, especially young entrepreneurs do not have it easy. She however, urged financiers and other business support structures to rather offer assistance in areas where possible. “It is better to say, how would you like us to help you, rather than saying, your idea won't make it,” she said.