Business Development Training at The Earth Academy
Last week our Academy in Northern Botswana hosted its second training. The first training involved interview and CV development for young people in the communities, and this training was all about business development and marketing for women. We were excited to be reconnected with our Solar Mamas in Seronga at the Academy, who took part in this business development training. The participants included our Solar Mamas and other leading ladies in the communities who were growing small businesses. Our aim was for the training to bring new skills to these women and give them the tools to grow their businesses they were starting, for them to share on with their communities.
The training, run by Botshelo Sesinyi from the Exombakhian Family (also General Manager for the Okavango Community Trust), aimed to give the ladies the skills to make businesses profitable and successful, to make the small businesses of today in Botswana the large enterprises of tomorrow. Botshelo’s experience lies in helping communities achieve their business and financial goals by training leaders who will share their knowledge.
“We want our students to understand the basics (ideas management, business plans, and proposals) as well as how to manage their lifestyle alongside their business. Training women is essential. Women make up a large proportion of our population, and we must give them skills to empower and uplift themselves.” – Botshelo Sesinyi from Gunotsoga.
We caught up with a few of our Solar Mamas, who are very much a part of our Great Plains family, on their small businesses and the benefits of training and upskilling women in general.
Thatayaone is creating building bricks out of recycled glass in the hope to generate business, employment, and protect the environment from litter.
“I started this project because of the increasing number of bottles in our landfills and our delta. When you walk around, you see bottles almost everywhere in this region, lots of litter. So I wanted to think about how I can convert this into something else. Also, because we need a better source of sand because our sand structure is not suitable for brick molding, I want to curb sand mining and land degradation. I want to grow this project so it can be known around Botswana that not everything is waste and that we as a nation should adopt a recycling and environmentally friendly lifestyle. By doing this, we will stop littering.
The training has helped me a lot as I have learned many things like how to start my own business, the production processes, customer care, and marketing skills. Women are like the umbrella of communities. Upskilling women is important as, in most cases, they take care of their families, so this allows them to pass on the knowledge and share their skills with the young stars in the community. In the future, these young stars will grow up knowing that every idea is a good idea that can be implemented to impact the community positively. All women can succeed and do what men can do and achieve big things.”
Olebogeng noticed a gap in the market for local egg production in her community.
“I started this project because I saw a market gap as it is hard to get eggs here. We have to travel far to Shakawe to get eggs. I want to see this project grow into a big poultry business in the region to create youth employment. Thank you, Great Plains, for this training. I will hold workshops to equip other women in the community with business skills such as record keeping, customer care, and marketing skills.”
Nangana and Keitlhokile learned about re-usable sanitary pads during their training in India and see a huge opportunity in their communities. They understand the lack of available products and the importance of creating the product herself.
“I was looking at my village, noticing as we live in a remote area where it is not easy to get access to sanitary pads. I came up with this project to close the gap and help women in my community easily access hygienic pads. We have many situations where girls are missing classes when experiencing their periods due to lack of sanitary pads, and so with this project, I hope to empower young girls and give them dignity.”
Kebuseditswe recognized that not only is making the pads important but also training other women in the communities on how to make them and share the skill.
“I wanted to create employment alongside sanitary pads because of the high unemployment rate in my community, so I train other women on how to make reusable sanitary pads. With this project, I also want to advocate for environmental protection of no littering. Reusable pads reduce the waste created from usual ones.
The training I have been through helps me understand business and marketing skills, and I want to encourage fellow women in my community to start their businesses. Upskilling women will help have more women in business, which will motivate the upcoming generation to unleash their talents and independently earn a living. I hope to share the mentality that you don’t need a degree to be successful.”
Nanjira learned how to make solar cookers in India and has been creating cookers as well as teaching others how to make them.
“My business is all about the solar pot cooker. This project aims to come up with sustainable ways to protect the environment in everyday activities. I want to equip the ladies in my community with the skills I learned from India and see the sola cooker being produced locally within my community and the Beetsha community’s future.”
Our community liaison officer in Botswana, Mma Kea, who’s been with the company for an incredible 32 years, noted, “when you uplift a woman, you uplift a family and a nation. Training and education bring green pastures to people. The future of girls and women makes me so excited. The future will be brighter. I want to encourage all girls to use their hands and learn to make things themselves instead of buying them, opening up our industries. Learning to use your hands will take you far in life.”