Despite a recent Global Economic (GEM) Survey, the world’s largest global survey on entrepreneurship by the World Bank applauding Botswana’s infrastructure as one of the fastest growing in Sub-Saharan Africa; people on the ground differ.
31-year-old Kealeboga Ramasobana of Old Naledi in Gaborone is an ex-convict and operates an impromptu workshop along the Old-Lobatse Road by the railway tracks.
His enterprise, which has earned him the name ‘Radithaere’ utilizes used and worn-out vehicle tyres to make children’s swing sets, household furniture and ornaments.
Speaking in an interview with Voice Money at his work station, Ramasobana says that the available infrastructure is not easily accessible to aspiring entrepreneurs in Old Naledi, due to bureaucratic red tape that makes it even difficult for the social worker’s office to assist them.
He cites his inability to get assistance from government funding bodies such as the Youth Development Fund (YDF) offered through the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development as one of the predicaments they are faced with as aspiring entrepreneurs.
He adds that, with appropriate funds, his enterprise wouldn’t be operating from the side of the road.
“My wares are not safe here, but there is a safe place at the community center where I could operate from till I’m stable enough to rent a proper workshop,” he says, adding that his predisposition as an ex-convict is not a hindrance to his prosperity but rather a blessing as he has, during his incarceration, amassed skills to make an honest living.
Radithaere explains that he has lost a lot of money in the past after people took some of the materials he uses due to the lack of security for his manufactured goods and raw materials.
“I literally sleep with one eye open knowing my products and equipment are out there,” he adds.
He proudly throws in that he is working in a skills transfer initiative where he teaches seven disabled members of the old Naledi society his craft since they cannot be absorbed into the mainstream employment sector.
“We could do a lot together and change a lot of lives. All we need is a secure place to operate from so the lives of these people are improved,” he emphasizes.