Forum to borrow leaf from Microsoft Innovation Hub
Francistown’s declining economy due to mine closures has prompted young people and business leaders in the city to put their heads together to map a way forward.
Initiated by a young executive and upcoming entrepreneur, Tebogo Toteng, Ideas and Innovation Forum (IIF) will bring together policymakers, business people, inventors and innovators to guide a new thinking process of diversifying the economy of Francistown.
“This would be done by leveraging on existing opportunities and chartering on new ideas to propel the economy forward,” said Toteng in an interview with Voice Money.
According to Toteng, the forum, which is in partnership with Francistown City Council, will come up with ideas to bring to an end the city’s historic dependency on mining.
He further said the futuristic intent is to create interdependent businesses modeled on the Microsoft Innovation Hub that promotes invention and innovation that cut across different sectors of the economy housed under the same roof.
“A notable difference is that while government is the major stakeholder, ideas and innovation must be driven by the industry, a new approach that seeks to minimize red tape,” Toteng said.
The two- day event will start with a launch dinner scheduled for Friday 27th April followed by the IIF seminar the next day.
“We are selling corporate tickets at P5000 for a table of 10 people and at P350 for individuals. Money raised from this dinner will be used to fund the seminar. Tickets are available at Federation Office at Supa Ngwao Museum,” he said.
Toteng further said their objective is to deliberate on five major deliverables through business advisory, technical and financial support.
“We intend to identify and incubate five businesses on a five- year programme. This would be done by encouraging same roof housing of similar businesses and micro managing them to develop new entrepreneurship spirit, especially in the local population, women and young people,” said Toteng.
He noted that for the forum to be a success it has to be private sector driven because of the practical business expertise they have.
“One particular individual, Saadia Rossenkhan deserves special mention because she moved heaven and earth to ensure this initiative takes off,” he said.
“This is not meant to underscore the importance of the role of government, which provides an enabling environment to private business success.”
Toteng said their plan is to have five successful businesses housed in the same roof by 2023, of which the blueprint will be developed from the first forum.
“The purpose of the first forum is to present and deliberate on those ideas which will then inform a five year strategic plan,” explained Toteng.
Topics to be covered during the seminar are ‘Re-thinking digital and online business to be presented by Mpho Chamo (Debeers).
Limkokwing University will present on developing the film, arts and entertainment industry while Malebogo Marumoagae give insight on Women in Business.
Other topics are Agricultural opportunities in Francistown (MoA), Investing in Real Estate (Ashan Kunda) and Localising the financial services industry by Thabo Lejowa (Metropolitan).
“These are very important topics that I believe will help us to reshape Francistown,” added Toteng.
He said financial services industry is the largest market in the world but is currently being dominated by foreigners.
“Francistown has an opportunity to establish herself as a Financial Services Hub,” he said.
He further said for entertainment industry the time is now to find ways to make it a lucrative business and make the industry to conform to regulation.
“As the second city, Francistown should be an entertainment centre. Currently tourists don’t even spend a night here because there’s very little entertainment,” he said.
He further said there’s a tendency by policy makers to come up with projects without consultation with the would- be beneficiaries.
“A typical example is with the current P10 million constituency grants. Some policy makers are thinking of building a community hall, but our young unemployed graduates are thinking about an amphitheatre,” he said.
“These are some of the issues that will be discussed on the 28th and members of the public are encouraged to attend in large numbers,” he said.