By Kutlwano Molelu
The Youth Development Fund (YDF) is a government initiative through the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture aimed at empowering youth to own business and create sustainable employment opportunities for young people through the development of sustainable projects.
When it started it was called out of school youth grant, where the funding ceiling was P50 000 and it was wholly grant. It caters for out of school youth, unemployed and underemployed youth, (working youth earning less than P600 monthly) who are citizens of Botswana, aged 18-29 years.
The YDF funding is 50% grant and 50% interest free loan of the total approved amount .The funding ceiling is P100, 000. Beneficiaries shall benefit only once under the fund and are expected to graduate and utilize other financial intermediaries to expand and to grow their establishments.
Up to date more than 3000 young people have benefited from the initiative across the country and have created employment opportunities for their peers.
Government continues to be committed towards youth empowerment the Youth Development Fund has been increased by P57 million, from P3 million for the financial year 2005/2006 to P60 million for the financial year 2010/2011.
Projects funded are divided into 4 categories namely: tourism, agriculture, services and manufacturing.
Simon Moabi is one of the many youths across the country who have taken advantage of the funds .The 27 year old is running a manufacturing company in Masunga thanks to the YDF. He manufactures steel products such as brick moulds, dustbins to name a few.