“Khudu ya Mariga e itsiwe ke mmei wa yone.” This is a Setswana proverb meaning “the one who keeps something is the one who knows where to find it.”
The Setswana proverb subjectively drives the epistemological foundation meaning of modern sustainable business growth and development. However, this all depends on defining your Khudu ya Mariga (strategy goals) and your Mmei wa yone (The people you need to reach your goals). Simply put, what are your sustainable growth goals and who are the custodians of those goals?
Underemployment has substantially surpassed employment in relative terms. In Q1 of 2020, we saw Botswana recording a workforce of 978,396 while about 751,798 were recorded to be employed. However, there are no statistics for the underemployed currently but we can have a picture of how underemployment is “prominent” in our nation from the numerous internship programmes that have been created by institutions locally.
For most times, this would be seen as a huge economic problem but I believe this is potentially an untapped market. I say untapped market simply because employment, output and long-run prospects of growth are driven by human capacities, thus making the people more economically effective than another market player. The thought process of tapping this potential market is centred around defining what empowerment is, who needs to be empowered and why we need to empower them.
The greatest misconception in creating these numerous internship programmes is that actors in the economy (mostly private-sector organisations and parastatals) adopt strategies to take advantage of these existing weaknesses in the economy, not being cognisant of the short-run negative impact it has on their overall growth and going concern.
The Underemployed youth/ market players are seen as mere incentive to not dampen profits by planning for lower wages. But think about this. What if the actors in your business are critical in determining whether real productivity does occur? And real productivity is unfortunately linked to aggregate demand, and your employees ultimately add to this aggregated demand.
Therefore, investing in your labour force can and will maintain productivity and eliminate the question of product uncertainty morphing into a knowable future simply because you will have a base retained demand from your invested work force.
Let’s assume that out of the 751,798 employed Batswana, 60 percent of those are underemployed. That means 451 109 of the total are the foundation of your business, meaning 451 109 are people who understand the basic operations and functionalities of most businesses and are familiar with most product functionalities in Botswana. These are 451 109 people who, if empowered correctly, can contribute tremendously to sustainable economic growth.
Imagine this. These are 451 109 people who know your product and you don’t have to sell the idea of the product to them because they are already invested in the product. The only problem is that they can’t afford it. Then what if you can empower them to afford the product or service? How will you gain sustainable return on investment?
A few months ago, I stumbled upon an economics term referred to as Social Reproduction. In empirical terms, social reproduction can be defined as the set of processes by which classes in an unequal society tend to replicate their status from one generation to the next and to the way various social institutions such as education and the economy tend to ensure such replication.
My understanding of this definition is that society has and will continue to replicate its customs and values for generations to come. However, it is entirely up to institutions and economic players to influence which values and customs are replicated. One way would be to conceptualise the company values in a broad array of features that feed into human capacities, such as investing in emotional maturity and self-confidence.
In business, social reproduction can be defined in terms of the time and money it takes to produce, maintain and invest in the labour force. It can be thought to link structures of economic growth and development with those of social reproduction. The extent to which reproduction takes place in both households and the private sector has the power to influence demand and long-run production growth for any business, leading to sustainable economic growth.
Therefore, empowering your base employees can allow them to buy into the brand they see every day and a brand whose functionalities they understand. It is a brand whose functionalities they will communicate to their social environment and that influence will be reproduced to later generations, thus ensuring sustainable business growth.
Khudu ya Mariga e itsiwi ke Mmei.