Local time: Saturday, 21 July 2018 21:40:45hrs
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The Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, the Honourable Thapelo Olopeng says the Youth Development Fund (YDF) is doing well despite challenges. Giving an update on the programme during ministers’ question time in Parliament, Minister Olopeng said during the current financial year (2015/16), the ministry was allocated P120 million, and that to date 1061 youth enterprises were approved at a cost of over P102 million.

Out of the amount, he said over P59 million was disbursed to 566 youth projects creating 1002 employment opportunities. However, the minister told Parliament that they had experienced delays in processing YDF applications due to reliance on external stakeholders for appraisal and adjudication of youth projects. As a result, he said they had resolved to undertake internal appraisals of youth proposals and to continue to use the District Economic Development Committee (DEDC) to focus on adjudication of YDF projects.

The Minister further said developments geared towards enhancing the programme included re-introducing orientations as well as pre and post entrepreneurship training, opening and closing of applications twice every year, introducing screening tool, registering a business name/company as a requirement and improving turnaround time for processing of applications from receipt to providing feedback to applications on progress or decisions to four weeks.

Minister Olopeng also said the ministry would continue to capacitate field staff on project management to enhance their competencies.

The minister noted they were also experiencing a high failure rate of funded youth projects due to various reasons which included lack of commitment by project owners, conflicting interests of beneficiaries, market penetration, limited business management and technical skills and high and unsustainable rentals. As a result, he said the ministry had embarked on a tracer study of all YDF funded projects to determine baseline, physical location as well as their number and status from August to December last year. He added that the monitoring and evaluation office was working on data analysis, saying it would guide in the development of remedial strategies aimed at ensuring sustainability of youth projects.

He said the ministry had also embarked on various initiatives to support young people and address challenges which included reservations in procurement through local procurement scheme and ensure employment creation as well as re-finance successful youth businesses with potential to create employment opportunities.

On the land issue, the minister explained that there was a presidential directive which advocated for youth to be given preferential treatment in land allocation and temporary use of vacant open spaces. Furthermore, he said the ministry had profiled unutilised structures and land for development and lease out to youth enterprises. Such, he said included among others, Old Western Primary School in Serowe, the Old Magistrate Court building in Francistown, Gaborone Multipurpose Youth Centre and Sechaba Youth Enterprises farm in Mankgodi.

The minister further indicated that they would continue to identify more of such areas throughout the country and at the same time develop an access model for occupation by youth.

In efforts to create an even more conducive working environment that supported youth enterprises, he said the ministry had partnered with a number of institutions to come up with some quick wins.Such, he said, included introducing purchasing of government tender documents at half price and reducing the turnaround time for PPADB applications to just a week.

Nevertheless, the minister noted that they were open to feedback to improve on YDF implementation. He also appealed to all community leaders to support the ministry efforts in monitoring of youth businesses. “It is through such support that commitment on the part of beneficiaries will result in compliance to repayment of loans, which is currently a huge challenge,” he said.

The Youth Development Fund was introduced in the 2009/10 financial year following the Out of School Youth Programme (OSYP) which started in the 2000/01 financial year. Its ceiling is P100,000 and it is in the form of 50% grant and 50% interest free loan. A penalty of 5 per cent interest per month is charged to defaulters on loan repayments.

The ministry also offers P450,000 for establishment of youth industries (cooperatives). The fund emphasises job creation and contributes to the diversification of the economy and empowerment. The fund seeks to promote active participation of youth in the socio-economic development of the country, encourages out of school, marginalised and unemployed youth to venture into sustainable and viable income generating projects, promote development of competitive, sustainable and growth oriented citizen-owned youth enterprises. It also seeks to reduce rural-urban migration by making it attractive to start growth oriented enterprises in rural areas as well as create sustainable employment opportunities for young people through development of sustainable projects. (BOPA)

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