Formal training for the informal sector


United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has schooled the informal sector on financial literacy and how to better manage their business in a bid to help small enterprises recover from the crippling effects of Covid-19.

In a two-day Skills and Development training course held in Maun last week, Botswana’s UNDP Technical Advisor on informal sector, Kefhilwe Mokotedi explained the programme is part of a bigger, three-tiered economic plan for the country. As well as the informal sector, the part of an economy that is neither taxed nor monitored by any form of government, it includes private and social protection recovery plans.

“It is all about people empowerment, poverty eradication and equality,” clarified Mokotedi.

UNDP Botswana partnered with Botswana government two years ago to develop and implement informal sector recovery plan. Alongside the other two plans, the UN are confident this will help the country bounce back after the devastation caused by Covid-19, which saw thousands lose their jobs and join the already flooded informal sector.

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Estimated to employ around 190, 000 of Botswana’s 2 million plus population when the pandemic first hit in early 2020, the informal sector is believed to have grown substantially since.

“Although the informal sector is growing, the numbers are not reflecting the true picture on the ground. A lot has changed since 2020,” noted Mokotedi.

Highlighting the need to capacitate this sector, which is dominated by women, she continued, “They lack skills to run their businesses. Others are saying they are in it to hustle so that they can feed their children and families, but for them to manage, they need training because this will help improve their skills.”

Topics covered at the workshop included: marketing, basic bookkeeping, networking and utilising social media among others.

It seems the training left a lasting dent on those that attended.

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Joseya Phillip, who has been running a tuckshop for as long as she can remember, described the lessons learnt as a huge eye opener.

“Had we been taught these 20 years ago, I believe I would have been far by now. You know I could see where I went wrong all these years; I only counted what I have, I didn’t keep records and did not put business money separate from my other accounts.”

As for 29-year-old Keitshepile Makata, who sells clothes, he is confident the marketing skills he learnt will go a long way in helping him think out of the box.

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“I have to start thinking repackaging, chasing after the market and going online for my sales,” reflected Makata, adding he was eager to get started.

The training has already started in earnest around the country, with workshops also held in Kasane, Palapye and Molepolole, and one set for Oodi this week.

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