- Mascom has provided assistance in money and in kind
- The young entrepreneurs are full of praise
Through Mascom Kitsong Centre initiative, Mascom Wireless has made a commitment to contribute to the ICT sector in Botswana by transforming small villages into knowledge-based economies, the company has said.
The initiative is also meant to empower the youth towards attainment of the Vision 2036 pillar of Sustainable Economic Development by Enabling Digital Literacy.
In 2009, Mascom Wireless entered into a Private Public Partnership (PPP) with the then Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology. Forty-one centres were rolled out under the Rural Telecommunications Development Programme and 110 Kitsong Centres are now operating across Botswana.
But the youth entrepreneurs who run these centres have not been spared the financial and operating challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the assistance of the cellular network company, Mascom Kitsong Centres have been able to stay afloat and even prosper.
One of the beneficiaries of the programme is Patson Mokgweetsi who has been operating Xhumo Kitsong Centre in the Central District village since April 2015. The young man says although business challenges across the economy were exacerbated by the COVID–19 pandemic, he has only Mascon to praise.
“Due to the lockdowns that have taken place from mid-2020, our customers were at home with the many of them on reduced salaries, resulting in financial losses for the Kitsong Centre businesses,” he told The Business Weekly & Review in an interview. “Even financial institutions were reluctant to lend their money to SMMEs but Mascom has been there to make a difference.”
Inspite of the depressed business environment, their benefactor, Mascom, continued to demonstrate a commitment to the young entrepreneurs operating the Kitsong Centres by providing assistance in both monetary terms and benefits in kind.
Pauline Tholego is a young woman entrepreneur who operates a Kitsong Centre in Motshegaletau Village that lies 50km from Serowe. She too applauds the mobile telecommunications operator for holding her by the hand throughout the pandemic.
“Mascom provided us with a six-month relief fund during the lockdowns, donated thermometers, printers and computers and gave us training and information about COVID-19,” she noted.
Kitsong Centre Operators receive training in Introduction to Computers and Entrepreneurial Development before being allocated centres to operate as their own businesses. The training has empowered young people to run these centres independently and contribute positively to the communities they live in.
Mascom provides continuous operational support, skills development and networking opportunities to all Kitsong Centres. The ICT equipment and services provided by Mascom makes it possible for the communities to access the Internet and related services