The Responsible Citizen - December 2022

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THE RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN MAGAZINE is an industry stalwart supporter in profiling successes in organizational CSI/CSR policy across multiple industries, bringing to the fore an informative and educational approach to showcasing the individuals and institutions driving sustainable practices in business, entrepreneurship and community development. Ours is a development and non-controversial publication which also provides good reference material that can be used by policy makers, academics and professionals.

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2 | THE RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN | BUSINESS • COMMUNITY • IMPACT Contents 06 | Founder’s Welcome 07 | Editor’s Note 08 | Gerald Randall: Old Mutual Botswana On Resposible Frameworks For Business 12 | TheNeoHub: Fostering A Knowledge-Based Economy Through Innovation 16 | Lubu Tours: Company Impact Through Travel And Tourism 20 | Letshego Botswana Sets Standards In Financial CSR 22 | BTC Sets Itself Apart In The Corporate Social Responsibility Sphere 24 | Bomaid and BIHL Trust: Powering The Fit For Life Campaign COVER STORY LEADING IN THE BUSINESS OF CSR 08 24
| 3 THE RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN | BUSINESS • COMMUNITY • IMPACT DECEMBER 2022 • ISSUE 5 28 | Botswana Society For The Deaf Gives A Voice To The Deaf And Mute 32 | Birdlife Botswana: Pioneering sustainable biodiversity and communitybased knowledge 34 | Care For Humanity: Youth-Driven Community Impact 38 | Believe Again Foundation Instills Hope In People Suffering From Abuse 41 | Sentebale On A Quest To Empower Vulnerable Youth In Botswana 44 | HER Voice Fund: Giving Women And Girls A Voice COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS IMPACT FOR TOMORROW’S GENERATIONS 34 41



Founder and Editor Mpho Moletlo Kgosietsile Managing Director of Wise Leadership (Pty) Ltd


Yvonne C Mtengwa Narratives PR FZ-LLC Dubai, UAE


Chedza Mmolawa Lorraine Kinnear



Lucy Nkosi @trcbotswana @TRCMagazine @theresponsiblecitizen @theresponsiblecitizenmagazine

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Founder’s Welcome

We are excited to bring you our latest dynamic issue. The second half of the year was filled with so much intensity and activity in the business environment. As the world came out of the Covid pandemic, we all emerged with new ways of doing things on the home front and in the workplace.

One of the key learnings this year is the realisa tion that most businesses were eager to reach out to the world again, leveraging numerous engage ments and activities. Key to this is the activation of business and putting the brand out there to build up the opportunities lost for some, and gaining momentum for those that have had a stable or exponential growth durin the Covid season. These engagements required the use of resources to re-establish and reset the businesses to their respective places or areas of influence.

As the world was actively recovering, most of us were not prepared for what this would require from people. And as the business community was becoming more engaged, the people, the most critical resources, were seemingly not really ready for what was coming. We have seen the rise of mental and psychological issues caused by the misalignments of the demands of business and the community. There is now an imbalance of family and work. On the other hand, some people are still drawn to working from home and are not able to join the world yet. Post Covid, there were a lot of challenges than expected. The key trends this year and in the coming year remain the need to balance mental health and wellness, family integration and business expansion. This is a demand on growth, and a call for which we must all play a role in an swering.

On a more positive note, we are pleased to have witnessed the growth of The Responsible Citizen

as a locally based publication, and like all businesses continent-wide and internationally, we look forward to its evolution as a Pan African brand. Here is to growth and making progress in finding our feet again.


Mpho KgosietsileMoletlo


Editor’s Note

As the sun sets on what we imagine has been a com pelling year of recovering and redrafting strategies in a post Covid19 era for most, we are encouraged to have witnessed a strong push from corporates and special interest groups across Botswana and the continent, to apply more community-focused ac tivity as part of their operations – be it in banking, legal services, tourism and hospitality as well as the creative industries. Businesses cater to people, and people are what make them succeed. Col lectively, we simply cannot miss any opportunity presented to give back financially through services and tangible goods, or by way of transmission of knowledge-sharing.

The Responsible Citizen Magazine team has enjoyed the immeasurable opportunity to speak with business and community leaders about their take on impacting the communities in which they

operate. We have discovered that a core tenet of their current and future activity hinges on engaging youth for social causes. From youth volunteerism to equip ping them with equipment for growth in a technically savvy world, sponsorship of students for training opportunities regionally and so on, we see how the engagement of young people informs decisions about the differences which can be made for future genera tions, through inclusion of their ideas and concerns.

We have also attained wider understanding of how the business of corporate social responsibility isn’t limited to big organisations. Our so-called community champions have included men and women called to action after experiencing some degree of trauma or difficult challenges, and upon survival, have opted to take small yet highly incremental steps to providing a sanctuary or rallying of resources for members of their communities, who may have encountered sim ilar issues. We salute all individuals who are pulling from their resources in time, finances and outreach to help yield solutions that stand to make a difference in the lives of others.

I would like to take the opportunity to all our read ers for supporting The Responsible Citizen Magazine through its first year of transition since our rebrand ing exercise. We are deeply inspired by the numerous stories shared by corporates, individuals and civil societies as they connected with us over their CSI/ CSR strategies and the impact they have witnessed throughout this year, as we all look ahead at the next.

Wishing a memorable festive season and compli ments of the New Year!

Yours truly,

YvonneC.Mtengw a
Gerald Randall: Old Mutual Botswana On Responsible Frameworks For Business

Old Mutual is a leading PanAfrican financial services provider that was established in Cape Town in 1845 as South Africa's first mutual life insurance company, offering financial security in uncertain times. The mantra of the founding members of the society was, “a certain friend in uncertain times”. This mantra still rings true to the underlying values of the business. The organisation’s overarching purpose is to help customers thrive by enabling them to achieve their lifetime financial goals while investing their funds in ways that will create a positive future for them, their families, their communities, and the broader society. Old Mutual commenced its Botswana operations in 1994, offering a wide range of short-term and life insurance services with branches in Gaborone and Francistown. The Botswana operations’ insurance services was created for personal, commercial, and corporate clients.

“As a leading financial services organisation we play a significant role in Botswana’s economy and are committed to its people through our responsible business practices,” says Gerald Randall, Group CEO of Old Mutual Botswana.

Gerald started his career in Investment Banking and Investment Management in South Africa. He then moved to Europe, North America, but made the transi tion into wealth and risk management when he joined Old Mutual Botswana in 2004. He has held director positions in Telecommunications, Banking, Invest ment Management, Commodity Trading, and Insur ance. He now sits at the helm of Old Mutual Botswana providing strategic leadership for the short-term and life insurance businesses.

“The term responsible business has been doing the rounds in the industry, but it encompasses more than just allocating CSR resources,” says Gerald. Old Mutual finds it important to continuously contribute towards social and environmental issues in Botswana. This is an integral part of Old Mutual’s strategy which is centered around building mutually positive futures with all stakeholders. The business’s sustainability framework is built around Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues that impact stakeholders. Their priorities, therefore, lie in ensuring sound gov ernance in their business activities and safeguarding the interests of our stakeholders and the communities in which we operate.

Old Mutual Botswana Responsible Business framework

Old Mutual has a deep penchant for championing mu tually positive futures for customers and communities alike. The organisation achieves this by maintaining

valuable partnerships with the government and oth er organisations to deliver positive outcomes driven by a plethora of initiatives. Inclusivity, transforma tion, and sustainable socio-economic development in the economy and the communities they serve remain key areas of focus. Old Mutual Botswana has a robust Responsible Business Framework that focuses on seven key pillars, namely, Responsible Investing, Environmental Impact, Financial Well being, Diversity and Inclusion, Skills Development, Education and Entrepreneurship.

“We speak sustainable development because we must take into consideration the next 100 years and the part we are playing to make sure the commu nities we operate in have the resources to thrive. A key focus of our responsible business is Education. In 2022 we partnered with six (6) (local) Financial education facilitators to assist in delivering ‘On The Money’, a financial education programme created to guide Batswana on how to best manage their financ es. Our intention is to reach a greater number of communities in Botswana though this initiative. We also recognise that our children are the future hence our investment in the adopt-a-school programme which has grown over the years. In addition to the above, we also work closely with various government ministries and teacher unions to support the educa tors in our communities," stated Gerald.

Making a difference in the lives of Batswana

Old Mutual has been actively engaged in various Corporate Social Responsibility over the past three decades, but some of the most recent activities include;

On The Money Financial Education

The On the Money Programme is a financial edu cation initiative created to teach all Africans how to best manage their finances. The Programme is based on the behaviors of Africa's Big Five animals. The unique characteristics of the Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, and Buffalo, as found in nature, have been distilled to teach Africans from different walks of life effective ways of managing personal and family finances. This program is offered for free to corporates, SMEs, and community members.

The Maru-a-Pula Orphan and Vulnerable Children’s (OVC) Programme

The Programme was officially launched in 2005. The objective of the Programme is to provide full scholarships to orphans and vulnerable children who demonstrate the academic ability to thrive at a world-class learning institution such as MAP but cannot afford the costs. The scholarship covers tuition, boarding, all meals, uniform and cloth ing, medical expenses, stationery, and other living expenses. In 2014 Old Mutual Botswana became a


sponsor under the Scholarship Programme. Over a period of 5 years, Old Mutual Botswana has donated P743,131.84.00 towards the S cholarship Programme and additional stationery to the school. The Old Mutual scholarship recipient, over the period of his schooling, performed exceptionally and is currently studying Mining Engineering at BIUST. We are proud to be part of this journey and wish him the best in his tertiary schooling.

Old Mutual Read Aloud initiative

In 2022 we launched the ‘Read Aloud’ initiative which took place at several schools in the Mogoditshane and Tsolamosese areas where over 3,000 students participate

in the activation and 200 books were donated to the school libraries. The schools included Lesirane Primary, Moamogwe Primary, Mogoditshane, and Solomon Dihutso Primary school. The donation is part of our Adopt a school CSR initiative which was first introduced in 2014 when Old Mutual Botswa na adopted Tlokweng Community Junior Secondary School.

La Modimo Charity Orphanage

Old Mutual Botswana donates groceries to La Modimo Charity every quarter. La Modimo is an orphanage that houses 30 kids aged 3 to 17 years old. This is an initiative that started back in 2013. The objective of the Centre is to provide shelter and staple food to the children. To this end, Old Mutual Botswana on a quar


terly basis assists the La Modimo Charity Orphanage through groceries to help provide a balanced diet for the kids. In addition to the quarterly groceries, donations include 48kg gas cylinders, 2500 liters of clean filtered water, and food parcels.

Re Mmogo Vaccination Campaign

In 2021, Old Mutual launched the Re Mmogo Vaccination campaign, a digital campaign running over a period of 4 months in support of the Ministry of Health to encourage vac cination by our citizens. The objectives of the campaign were to deliver a communications campaign across Botswana that would assist the government to improve vaccination aware ness and education of key facts about the COVID-19 vaccines and as a result to drive vaccine adoption. This campaign was primarily designed to drive awareness to shift people’s per ceptions of the vaccine and move them from a negative perception of vacci nation to a positive one, moving closer to achieving community immunity.

As part of the campaign, Old Mutual partnered with the Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) in November 2021 by donating 15,000 surgical masks to the Ministry of Basic Education. The masks were for teachers and students in disadvantaged areas in the country. In addition, Old Mutual donated 13,000 masks to other front-line workers, such as nurses through a donation to the Botswana Nurses Union, during a time when PPE was scarce and difficult to come by. Old Mutual also donated PPE to their broker community and staff as they were key in supporting clients during the pandemic. Old Mutual employees have also been key contributors to our communities through their work and as such our staff were permanently supplied with PPE throughout the pandemic. “Without our people, we cannot support the communities we serve,” says Gerald.

Francistown Centre for the Deaf Edu



In June 2021, Old Mutual donated P30,000.00 to the Francistown Center for Deaf Education to support their efforts in the education of the hearing impaired as they raised funds to fence the school securely to create a safe environment for the learners.

Adopt a person – SABF car donation

Old Mutual Botswana is a member of the South African Business Forum (SABF). The SABF members raised

funds and donated a 1-ton vehicle to the Adopt-A-Person organisation. The purpose of the donation was to assist the organisation to reach a wider area of the country in its effort to achieve its mandate. Adopt-A-Person feeds up to 3,500 children in various villages across Botswa na. P250 000 was raised by members of the SABF with each member company contributing to the initiative. The SABF was established in 2015 with the main aim of facilitating good relationships between the Botswana Government and South African businesses operating in Botswana.

Old Mutual Business-CSR sync

Being ‘a certain friend in uncertain times’ means being an anchor to not just customers but the communities Old Mutual operates in. Supporting people is in the very DNA of Old Mutual. This is evident in the Old Mutu al CARES strategy. Truly Mutual is about connecting with customers’ needs, journeys, and lives and showing that Old Mutual truly CARES. Not only in intent, but through our actions in the communities. As a pan-Af rican financial services provider, Old Mutual’s impact cuts across several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing, quality education, poverty eradica tion, transformational infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities, climate action, affordable and clean energy, and partnerships.

Mutual Impact for The Future

Old Mutual has a plan to continue investing strongly in education, healthcare, youth, entrepreneurship, and citizen empowerment. The existing programs and initia tives will thus remain in place. “We want our education initiatives to continue to reach students who need it at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. We will continue with our Graduate Internship Program which provides graduates with the opportunity to work in an organisa tion, and gain experience and valuable skills. Not only is this a platform for them into our organisation, but into the wider economy. Our Read Aloud initiative is to reach more schools in Botswana as we are conscious of how reading increases vocabulary and confidence in school children. While a good education provides learners with lifelong opportunities for themselves, their families, and their communities. Our “On the Money” programme is geared to reach more people in our communities as well as in the corporate space to drive behavioral change in how they manage finances. As Old Mutual we are con scious of the impact of Climate change globally. We want to build a socially inclusive future and have a renewed focus on reducing our carbon footprint as a group and increasing resource efficiency. We are conscious about how we utilise power and resources in our business, and we pledge to further our efforts in pursuit of real-world emissions reduction aligning with the 1.5°C Paris Agree ment goal. We are prioritising climate change action as it is our duty to preserve Botswana and the planet for future generations.



By Lorraine Kinnear


Unpacking TheNeoHub

Increasingly influential innovation hubs in cities such as Tel Aviv, Barcelona, London, and Paris are inspiring an entrepreneurial

A visionary and purpose-driven leader with a focus on youth development, digital transformation, and sustainable business development, Letsididi hosts a wealth of knowledge and experience from different organisations such as Botswana Insurance Fund Management (Bifm), First National Bank of Botswana (FNBB), and Stanbic Bank Botswana. She also serves as the Founder of Awake Arise and Shine NGO. She has also diligently served as a Board Member of the Board of Directors of Bo tswana Privatisation Asset Holdings under the Minister of Finance and Economic De velopment. She has also served as Business Development and Investment Consultant for various companies and SMMEs, pro viding growth strategies and investment planning. She has spent the past few years mentoring young women, empowering them to live a purpose-driven life marked by leadership, accountability, and societal contribution.THE RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN | BUSINESS • COMMUNITY • IMPACT
Fostering A Knowledge-Based Economy Through InnovationLEADING IN THE BUSINESS OF CSR

culture around the world. TheNeoHub is an innova tion hub in Botswana specifically designed to hone the entrepreneurial culture and inspire the next generation of innovators. Since its inception in 2020, the Hub has demonstrated resilience and growth. As we emerge from the pandemic, it is refreshing to have an innova tion hub like TheNeoHub collaborating with govern ment and other private stakeholders to help build the National Economy. Featured alongside other Innovation Hubs on InsideAfrica CNN Africa, this organisation is ushering in a new era of a knowledge-based economy.

Under the stellar leadership of Letsididi, TheNeoHub is a center for co-creation, collaboration, innovation, and scaling businesses while being friendlier to indi viduals and the environment in which they operate. The primary goal of this organisation is to serve as a one-stop shop for innovative entrepreneurs, with a deliberate interest in developing and propelling stake holders toward becoming sustainable key players made locally but recognized globally. Most entrepreneurs have innovative ideas that can have a positive impact on the world however need a dedicated partner to journey with them through at least the first few stages of their entrepreneurial journey, and this hub is in place for this exact reason.

TheNeoHub Initiatives Beneficiaries

TheNeoHub supports startups, connects and develops the local start-up ecosystem, and has a diverse portfolio of service offerings aimed at increasing economic activ ity in Botswana by introducing sustainable new enter prises. Children as young as five years old are key ben eficiaries, with assistance in areas such as learning the importance of saving and investing, devising technology to solve problems, taking on leadership, and developing an entrepreneurial mindset from a young age.

"One of our flagship activities is entrepreneurship for kids, from as young as age 5 until about 14 years old. This is in place to instill a culture of leadership and innovation from a young age," noted Letsididi.

As an organization that encourages entrepreneurial and innovative thinking across all age groups, univer

sity students are also an important age group that benefits from TheNeoHub. Within the business development unit, university students can test the commercial viability of their startups. They typically benefit from the Knowledge Centre, an information-sharing center aimed at demystifying and engaging young people in national-interest issues. Further to this, they also have an Open In novation Space where they can connect with other professionals to benchmark and gain inspiration

for putting their ideas into action. Partners who are open to sharing and receiving information al low outsiders to contribute to specific companies. These third parties will work as consultants for TheNeoHub.

Entrepreneurs will feel at home at TheNeoHub as it offers a variety of services aimed at assisting various ventures in optimising their solutions to meet the needs of their end users. The organisa tion helps startups that use technology to enhance processes and disrupt industries, as well as those that do not use technology but find other new, creative, and better ways to do things. TheNeo Hub uses a collaborative approach to establish the


needs of the organisations in ques tion, consult on growth strategies, and match them with investors. The wider team at TheNeoHub believes that nur turing such an essential culture will be the cornerstone of the knowledge-based society Botswana is gravitating towards. Letsididi shared, "We need to embrace innovation as a part of an evolving econ omy. Innovation in Africa specifically is pivotal to unlocking unlimited possibil ities."

Shifting Botswana to a knowledgebased economy

Critical thinkers, inventors, and innova tors are empowering their communities and embracing a new era where infor mation, not resources such as minerals, could define Botswana’s economic land scape and future. A knowledge-based economy is definitely where individuals and organisations need to be investing quite strongly.

“TheNeoHub is preparing people to embrace a whole new world. We live in times that are constantly evolving. A 5-year-old who's going to be 20 years old at a point in time needs to be handed the right tools such as leadership and innova tion. We want to inculcate such essential skills in future leaders to prepare them for the future,” Letsididi expressed this when speaking about their positioning in the National Vision of transitioning to a knowledge-based economy.

TheNeoHub recognises that young people are critical to advancing sustain able development and as such, youth issues (such as unemployment) must be seriously considered in the pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals to ensure possible solutions to societal challeng es. Addressing all of the problems of youth is a genuine step toward a knowl edge-based economy. Thus, The Young Leaders of Botswana was established to gain traction in moving Botswana toward a knowledge-based economy. The initia tive recently made history by hosting His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana, Mokgweetsi E. K. Masisi,


as a keynote speaker at the launch of TheNeoHub's expanded mandate.

As both a center for change markers and future leaders, TheNeoHub is a clear cut above the rest. Letsididi expressed, Since the inception of the business great strides have been made in the space of youth development and future skills development.

Investing in young people to help address skills shortages could provide a long-term solution to recovering from the economic effects of COVID-19 as well as any future hurdles that different nations could face in future. TheNeoHub has put in place a plan that is both com mendable and inspirational, providing essential skills needed by future leaders.

For Letsididi, doing so was crucial as she reflects, “I’ve had people invest in me and help unleash my potential so TheNeoHub was established from the very idea of creating spaces where individuals, especially children can tap into their creative potential. We believe that everyone has a gift and everyone came into this lifetime to be a gift to their immediate communities.”

She understands the importance of cre ating a space where individuals can feel supported in pursuit of their dreams.


Lubu Tours And Safaris: Community Impact Through Travel And Tourism

Our globalized modern world has resulted in an increase in interna tional travel and more people moving around the world. While this is to be celebrated, it also poses a significant risk to our environment and causes cultural dis placements. These challenges can be met by dedi cated individuals who understand and practice the perfect balance of profitability and sustainability. Sustainable travel is important as it strikes a balance between responsible tourism and environmental protection. This kind of travel aims to have the least possible negative impact on the environment, cul ture, and economic development of the destination. In Botswana one organization at the forefront of this movement is Lubu Tours and Safaris. This one hundred percent Motswana-owned business led by Tloco Kelebemang is wholly centered around sus tainable travel and here is their inspiring journey.

Tloco Natefo Kelebemang is a travel entre preneur who believes in sustainable tourism, conservation, and women's empowerment. She has a background in finance and investments and is currently pursuing her Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business where she has been part of the organizing committee of the 22nd Women in Business Conference. In the past, she held positions such as Equity Research Analyst in Botswana. She is a YALI Regional Leadership Cen tre of Southern Africa alumna, a MINDS scholar, a Mandela Washington Fellow 2021, and has received extensive leadership development training. As part of her MBA program, she studied Sustainable Fi nance, Investing, and Impact through an exchange program at the ESMT Berlin, Germany. She has ex tensive experience in sustainable tourism, research, business, finance, and investments and has worked on brands such as Stanbic Bank of Botswana and Stockbrokers Botswana. Tloco also contributes to and has been featured in several regional publica tions such as Voyages Afriq, Daily Maverick, and Biz Community.

TRC: Kindly provide a brief overview of Lubu Tours and Safaris.

TNK: Lubu Tours and Safaris is an inbound travel company that was established in 2015. The story of

Tloco Natefo Kelebemang

how it came to being is one very close to my heart and I’m always delighted to tell it as it continues to inspire me to contribute meaningfully to communities as well as the local economy. The business was inspired by an experience with the Chobe Safaris Lodge where I participated as a volunteer, through the Chobe Youth Council. The voluntary services that lasted a period of three months happened during the short break between senior school and University. Through this experience, I was exposed to and fell in love with tourism. This is where I witnessed the economic benefits of tourism to communities, the environment, wildlife, and to the country by extension. This spark of inspiration only truly started to manifest in 2015 when I officially registered the business and fully began operations.

Great strides have been made over the years leading up to the pause in economic activity set into being by the Global pandem ic of 2020. That period incited my decision to make a strategic

shift in the business, and this decision was also inspired by the subsequent travel trends. We are now moving away from just planning trips and curating itineraries and more towards sustainability-focused travel experi ences. As a business, we’ve become more focused on the eco-conscious traveler and play a great role in conserva tion education – not just for our clients but also for the communities where we do business. Furthermore, we are now increasing our destination base to cover the wide region of Africa as a whole. We are slowly repositioning our brand to Lubu Africa Travel pending some docu mentation steps. Once this is fully in motion, we want to facilitate continent-wide travel. In this move, we are still in the infancy stage of the process where eyeing a couple of countries and establishing partners in those regions to enable a smooth roll-out of the repositioning.

Our ethos is two words, and those words are Sustainability and Impact within the context of travel and tourism. Every thing we do is underpinned by these words, and this could be anything from conservation education, community en gagement, and travel curation. This ethos extends to the way in which we hand-pick our partners consciously bearing in mind what role they play in sustainable travel. We truly embrace our role as a middle man and the responsibility that comes with that. We connect our travelers with partners that resonate with them. Having taken the stand to be sustain ability-focused means that we have become very strict about the partners we have, we look for alignment in values between ourselves and the partners in question. For instance, when looking for an accommodation partner we go through a very meticulous vetting system to understand the level of sustain ability of the partners. This pro pels us as a business towards having a greener business.

TRC: How is Lubu Tours and Safaris Playing An Active Role In Community Impact Through Travel And Tourism?

TNK: Community initiatives are often used as change catalysts in which members of the com munity and organizations col laborate to improve the quality of life. Through community


engagements and initiatives, we can necessitate sustain able progress throughout different communities. In 2020 we worked in collaboration with our partner Okavan go Hidden Gems in Camp Maru to support a group of women in the Ditshiping community. This community is heavily reliant on tourism and during that era of move ment restrictions this community was badly impacted. Many households could not make an income to support their families, so we were honoured to support that community, especially in those trying times. We worked alongside these women to identify key areas that needed relief and we offered our support in essentials such as toiletries, and groceries as well as addressing some key issues that came up.

Another initiative that has been close to our hearts from the early days of our business is Girls Trip Tours partnership. Girls Trip Tours brings women from all over the world to experience Africa the African way through curated cultural excursions. We were on schedule to deliver an experience called the Annual Transformative Travel Experience that focused on women empower ment. The chosen destination for this event was Victoria Falls. However, due to the pandemic, a lot of participants signed out, but we persevered and found new ways to still drive the impact of sustainability education. We host ed the virtual program of Destination Botswana which was centered around Botswana’s tourism industry where I was delighted to give a virtual tour of the Okavango as a

UNESCO World Heritage Site. The program participants of this program were young people from all over the world. Post that event we are now in a place to connect young people with mentors and opportunities for schol arships all in the sustainable travel and tourism space.

TRC: What are some of the plans you have as a busi ness to ensure impact into the future?

TNK: We are in talks with several individuals and insti tutions to seek ways to do business better to serve both businesses and communities. Having had the privilege to take part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship, my main aim while there was to forge meaningful relation ships that can be beneficial to our journey as a business. This was the perfect opportunity for us as a business network and find ways to connect with other Africans and find synergies in creating an impact within the re gional context. This would mean that we tell Botswana’s story, use conservation education to ensure that we are building businesses that can continue to contribute to the national economy and the environment. Furthermore, it means we showcase Botswana’s efforts in terms of conservation. And while I was traveling there were a lot of questions with regards to our conservation efforts as a country. We want to tell the stories of why, Botswana has the largest concentration of African elephant. We want to educate the traveler because the power is in the hands of the traveler to be able to choose sustainable travel prac


tices, and to be able to choose sustainable and conservation-based destinations. Our aim going forward is conservation education. We're in talks with several institutions in the US, Zimbabwe, and other African territories we would like to tap into to establish a map forward.

Another key focus area for us in the future is diaspora travel as it is a growing interest that we can immediately plug into. Research shows that diaspora travel represents $63 billion opportunity for destinations. And I asked myself, where are we as Botswana? Where are we positioned in this movement or in this exciting new thing that's happening that is called diaspora travel? And for me, my first thought was we must be part of this and so we are in talks with institutions also in the US now because we're seeing a lot of black Americans visiting Africa. It's something that we are working on to see how we can also be part of the conversation, how we can position ourselves and how Botswana as a country can also position itself to make the destina tion attractive to these kinds of travel expe riences. What is interesting about people who are interested in diaspora travel is that they are traveling with intent to connect with their roots so it’s almost a low hanging fruit for us as African-owned businesses to step up to this challenge and provide this service to the best of our ability.

TRC: How are you embracing the new type of traveler that’s emerging in our recent years?

TNK: While most businesses saw the pan demic as this dark age, we saw it as an oppor tunity. We are grateful for the pandemic be cause also it gave us a chance to really pause and think about how we want to do things differently. And we're also excited about the new kind of traveler, because the new kind of traveler is one that is the conscious traveler, you know, the one that travels with purpose and intent, the one that travels for reasons beyond just sight-seeing, or visiting the famous sites and areas, but to give back to the community to engage with women, to engage with their goals, and to conserve natural resources. That's why we're also taking this as an opportunity to do conservation educa tion and our role in sustainable travel really points to our choice of partners. To say we're sustainable, we can only do that through our partners, the partners that provides the final service for the final product in the way that we choose them in the way that we want alignment in terms of information and their visions as well. So, for now I'd say that's how we are playing an active role in engaging today’s global traveler.


Letshego Botswana Sets Standards in Financial CSR

lives for ordinary citizens across the breadth of their footprint in Africa, which includes every inch of Botswana.


Letshego strives to achieve sustainability in Bo tswana and aligns with 11 out of the United Na tion's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the national government mandate to encourage the productive use of loans, ultimate ly increasing income potential, employment levels, and sustainable economic development within local communities. Ferguson explained that this is something they are incredibly com mitted to and passionate about. The concept of creating shared value and delivering impact is engrained into how they do business, allowing them to make a meaningful impact and positive progress at every turn.

Letshego Botswana is one of the epitomes of what CSR truly reflects and represents. Letshego’s purpose is to improve lives by extending the reach of simple, affordable, and appropriate financial solutions to Individuals and Micro and Small Entre preneurs (MSEs) with a focus on Youth, Health, Agriculture, Education, Affordable Housing, and Entrepreneurs. This purpose informs and drives everything the company does and indeed sits at the heart of the business.

The Letshego Group is an African multinational, first open ing its doors in Botswana more than 21 years ago by offering loans to government employees. Today the Group has over 3,000 employees comprising more than 21 nationalities and supports public and private sector individual customers, as well as micro and small entrepreneurs. The company has operations in 11 sub-Saharan African markets, including Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Letshego Botswana Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Fergus Ferguson narrates their company's firm resolve to improve

“The ongoing evolution and formalisation of our approach to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) matter are driven by the developmental component of our mandate. We are committed to being a good, proactive corporate citizen, as demonstrated by our ESG activities and impact over time,” explained Ferguson.


The company's CSR investments align with its aspirations to provide financial support to individuals and Micro and Small Entrepreneurs (MSEs). In 2021, Letshego sponsored Botswana Teachers Union with up to P200,000 in support of a 12-month Financial Literacy Program for Teachers.

And earlier this year, their MSE Purchase Order Financ ing facilitated for entrepreneurs and small business owners who were contracted by the government to deliver over 18, 000 laptops to students and teachers. The equipment, worth over P56,000,000, provided top-class technology across 34 secondary schools in Botswana.

They also recently launched their Digital Mastery Pro gramme, where 15 brilliant minds were enrolled in the pro gram, comprising 10 youthful members of the public and 5 Letshego employees. This is part of Letshego’s ‘People-First Strategy’ that aims to build future-fit communities where


digital and technological innovations are used as strategic enablers for growth and economic development.

At the onset of COVID-19, Letshego Botswana donated P1,000,000 to the National COVID-19 Relief Fund to help support the fight to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Letshego has continued to invest in the wellbeing, health, and safety of the people of Botswana – colleagues, customers, and communities – since then as the pandemic waged further across the country and the continent.

Finally, over the years, Letshego has provided donations in support of Botswana Teacher’s Day, Botswana Defence Force, the Botswana Police Service, the annual Desert Bush Walk, and the University of Botswana (UB) Foundation to support their respective civic and charitable obligations.



As a responsible financial institution, Letshego Botswana plays a central role in driving sustainable socio-economic development for the benefit of its stakeholders at large. They understand that to achieve their potential, Letshe go needs thriving economies, well-functioning societies, and healthy environments both in Botswana and across the region.

Ferguson said they recognize that interdependent sustainability issues such as social justice, environmental stewardship, and inclusive development will play an in creasingly important role in shaping society. To this end, we aim to redouble efforts to create sustainable shared value in a manner that drives more equitable and inclusive societal impacts and outcomes.

“Letshego recently launched Letshego's LetsGo Digital Mall, a virtual, world-class financial services platform con necting the digital and physical worlds, created to improve lives through easy access to a wide range of socially impactful services and solutions, micropayment and savings solutions, affordable and eco-friendly housing, education, family in surance as well as productive and green lending options," he further explained.


Letshego continues to have a considerable positive impact in Botswana both through its sustainable lending model that promotes financial literacy, as well as inclusive and produc tive lending. In line with their purpose, Letshego aims to ‘Improve Lives for Batswana' and to support the national government mandates to encourage the productive use of loans, ultimately increasing income potential, employment levels, and sustainable economic development within local communities.


"We aim to progressively transfer the learnings from our digital transformation journey in ways that make it easy for Batswana to access more affordable financial support, finan cial literacy, education, and affordable housing that we offer at Letshego. What is important to note is that our resolve will never wane in working to drive positive progress and create shared value for communities, but our thinking, efforts, and passion indeed evolve for the better every day we learn, we grow, and we use this to deliver greater impact in improving lives," he concluded.


BTC Sets Itself Apart In The Corporate Social Responsibility Sphere

Since 2009 Botswana Telecommunication Corporation Limited (BTC) has committed to inspiring corporate involvement in adopt ing solutions for the challenges that impact Botswana’s underprivileged communities. Its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) is driven by a firm belief that while corporate growth and profitability are essential, corporations must pursue societal goals; specifically, those relating to sustainable development.

And in 2014, the organization established the BTC Foun dation to manage and coordinate its CSI programs. The BTC Foundation is a legal entity registered through a Trust Deed and administered by a Board of Trustees. It is a non-profit initiative that seeks to be responsive to the needs of the communities in which BTC and its partners/suppliers operate. The founda tion's mandate is to impact the lives of communities in pursuit of social, economic, and environmental sustainability, with an emphasis on impact and longevity.


The BTC Foundation's current three-year strategy for 2020 complies with International Standards (ISO26000). This frame work focuses on stakeholder engagement, materiality, moni toring and evaluation, and reporting of projects and activities. Furthermore, the framework emphasizes efficiency, effective ness, and employee engagement when carrying out projects.

The foundation projects and activities are essential stake holder engagement platforms for the company. Employees are integral to the culture of socially responsible conduct and are involved in BTC Foundation initiatives.

Its investments are garnered through partnerships with Non-Prof it Organisations, sponsorship of CSI projects, and direct donations to support causes in line with its focus areas. The BTC Foundation's key focus areas are charitable donations, environmental protection, entrepreneurship and innovation, arts and culture, and wellness and sports.

Even though BTC has engaged in numerous CSI projects, in this issue, The Responsible Citizen Magazine focuses on 3 of its most recent and prominent initiatives highlighted by the company's Head of Stakeholder Relations, Lesego Goitsemang.


BTC, in collaboration with Thapong Visual Arts Centre, sponsored two artists on a learner exchange program in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, for five (5) days. Mpho Tlotlo Maleke won the 2020 Phonebook Cov er competition, and Gosego Motlogelwa clinched the 2021 Thapong


Artist of the Year Award, respectively.

The artists will be hosted by the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Bulawayo to learn more about the creative industry. While there, they will tour monuments such as the National Gallery, Mzilikazi Art & Craft Center, and the National Museum, and other artists' studios.

The exchange program is part of the partnership between BTC and Thapong where the two entities came together to support and help grow the arts as a professional opportunity and that artists may use to earn a living.

The 3-year partnership covered the annual BTC Phonebook cover competitions, Thapong Artists of the year awards, training and development for artists, and a contribution to Thapong Visual Arts Centre.

BTC has sponsored the exchange program to the tune of P30, 000 to cover the artists' expenses. Through this initiative, the artists will gain international exposure, widen their scope, and sharpen their talent to be competitive.

Goitsemang added that the Thapong Visual Arts Centre Coordi nator, Mr. Reginald Bakwena acknowledged the positive impact of the sponsorship on artists and the creative industry. He stated that the five days won't only be informative but will prepare the artists to be well-rounded business people.


The BTC Foundation also honored and rewarded excelling Junior Certificate Examination (JCE) students in Molepolole at a prize-giv ing ceremony held at Dithejwane Junior Secondary School.

The organisation invited the Minister for State President Honour able Kabo N.S Morwaeng to be a guest speaker at the prize-giving ceremony. While there, he expressed that he was happy and proud to be amongst those who came to honor and celebrate the outstand ing educational outcomes of the collective hard work of teachers, non-teaching staff, parents, JCE students, and the community of Molepolole.

The BTC Foundation, through its Corporate Social Responsibil ity (CSR) wing will be rewarding twenty-five (25) students from eight (8) junior schools in Molepolole for achieving merit and first class in the 2021 JC Examinations with 25 tablets. In addition, BTC honoured Dithejwane JSS with a computer, printer, cartridge, and internet connectivity for one year.

The prize-giving ceremony ended with a demonstration of the BTC digital education solutions that have been praised for its contribution to the excellent results in Dithejwane JSS. The digital education solutions are connected to the WIFI/Internet for real-time research and integration with Botswana Curriculum Content on Classmate, allowing BTC to offer training accredited by Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) to empower both learners and teachers.

The digital education platform brings ultimate attention to both the student community and teachers as they replace traditional blackboards, thus offering an interactive solution that draws atten tion of the students; allowing multiple displays, technical adjust ments, audio-visual setups, video conferencing, and other web-relat ed functions for the education sector.


Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited is also the platinum sponsor of the 15th Annual University of Botswana (UB) Fundraising Golf Day. The UB Golf day event raises funds for the Graduate Scholarship Endowment Fund through which the Foun dation provides scholarships to deserving students.

The Chancellor of the University of Botswana, Her Excellency

Ambassador Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, announced that BTCare, (initiation under BTC Foundation) has been the platinum spon sor for two years at an annual amount of P150,000.00, bringing the total sponsorship value to P300 000 for the years 2022 and 2023. This was not the first time BTC had supported the UB Foundation, it previously supported Golf Day by sponsoring teams and purchasing dinner tickets for their staff members.

The Trust, which was established in 2000, is a non-profit making entity, and through the UB Foundation, it organises annual fundraising events in support of various activities and programs at the University of Botswana. Through the Endow ment Fund, that was established in 2003, the Foundation has been able to award scholarships to 318 students.


Bomaid and BIHL Trust: Powering the Fit for Life Campaign

The epidemic of Non-Commu nicable Diseases (NCDs) is an increasing concern and poses devastating health consequenc es for Batswana and the world over. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that Non-Communicable Diseas es are the cause of 46% of deaths in Botswana. This is mainly due to harmful and excessive use of alcohol and tobacco, unhealthy diet as well as inadequate physical activity. Considering this, Botswana Medical Aid (Bomaid) and the Bo tswana Insurance Holding Limited (BIHL) Trust have collaborated in efforts to create awareness through a National response to Non- Communi cable Diseases (NCDs).

This alliance has birthed a fitness programme called Fit for Life Campaign which started on the 1st of June and is currently at its peak. This campaign is geared towards promot ing and encouraging a healthy lifestyle and wellness amongst Batswana by highlighting the importance of keeping healthy, especially for those living with NCDs, which are now the leading cause of death globally and claiming millions of lives each year. This combined effort is also purposed towards performing surveillance, monitoring, and research to better understand the burden of NCDs as well as seek innovative solutions that evaluate the actual impact of interventions.

The reasons for the increase in health chal lenges associated with non-communicable health challenges include rapid urbanisation, reduced exercise, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle, among other factors. Overall, this impact on people can lead to chronic diseas es such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and diabetes. Additionally, NCDs, can lead to reduced life expectancy and can cause affected peo ple to also experience increased medical bills and less favorable life insurance policy assessments. In this vein, two of Botswana’s big players in the Life and Wellness space, Botswana Medical Aid Society (Bomaid) and the BIHL Trust have partnered on a public education cam paign aimed at combating lifestyle diseases.

A better quality of life is possible and indeed achiev able through steady changes that can result in an im proved overall health and wellness profile. Therefore, as a Nation, we have a growing need to focus on well-be ing, and wellness. This need has never been as great as it is today. The efforts of Bomaid and BIHL Trust have birthed an initiative called Fit for Life. The initiative features nine individuals selected through an open call who will undergo a 90-day transformation. The cam paign will set into motion habit changes in their current lifestyle, that will enable them to lead a healthier and


happier lives. The primary aim of the campaign, and one which is of benefit to all, is to be healthy, happier, and more holistically “well” people across societies. Their journeys will continue to be profiled on social media to educate the public on NCDs and ways of curbing them. Through the profiling of the team’s various activities and habit changes, the public will have exposure to the transformation as it happens. BIHL Trust Chair, Ngwat shi Enyatseng added, “Our philosophy as the wider BIHL Group focuses on realizing the advantages of strength in numbers, both literally and figuratively. We are stronger together, and this applies to our wellbeing, a central fo cus area for us as a business. The Fit for Life initiative, in conjunction with Bomaid, gives us an exciting opportu nity to demonstrate how our many experts, partners, and ideas can come together to help Batswana live a healthier lifestyle and defeat NCDs. Through this initiative, we aim to help Batswana to holistically improve their health, wellness, productivity and ultimately their quality of life and to ultimately engineer stronger legacies for and with each other.”

The Fit-for-Life team’s journey will be shared on social media to inspire and educate the wider public on how they too can overcome NCDs while changing their lifestyle for the better. Viewers will be able to enjoy the Fit for Life journey through content featuring deli cious recipes and exercise programmes that can all be tried at home. The nine-member Fit-for-Life team will undergo thorough health and lifestyle assessments. The data gathered from the initial assessments will then be evaluated by life insurance experts and a subsidiary of the BIHL Group, Botswana Life, to yield a score. That score will become the baseline that the Fit-for-Life team will endeavor to improve on after the 90-days of actively


changing their lifestyles. The team will be under the guidance of a team of experts in fitness, nutrition, health, and wellness. This team of experts will jour ney with the participants and will support the Fitfor-Life participants on their journey. The panel of wellness experts will include a nutritionist, a mental wellness practitioner, a fitness trainer, and a chef and they will take the team through initiatives that are geared towards sustainably improving their lifestyles based on their individual assessments.

Weekly sessions with the Fit for Life team feature progress reports from the experts guiding the team to help viewers appreciate the realities of changing your lifestyle for the better. The team also gets to share their personal views on their journey to their final assess ment where, hopefully, improvements in their lifestyle profile will yield a more favorable life policy assessment. Through all these efforts a social media food content producer will help bring the food and nutrition recom mendations to life by cooking and presenting some of the healthy recipes to be shared via social media for the benefit of both the participants and the public. Bomaid’s Business Development Manager concluded by saying, “Bomaid and BIHL Group through its CSR arm BIHL Trust have an exciting partnership to bring greater awareness to the rising pandemic of NCDs. These are

lifestyle diseases that are preventable from a health and wellness perspective. We aim to empower Batswana through the Fit-for-Life initiative with prac tical knowledge that can be easily adopted into their everyday lives. The aim is to give Batswana the tools to actively achieve a happier and healthier lifestyle.”

With the understanding that NCDs continue to challenge us as a nation, the two businesses saw a need to educate the public in a way that is authentic, engaging, and informative. All efforts created in this campaign are meant to encourage more Batswana to live healthier lifestyles. A healthy lifestyle is essen tial for anyone who wants to feel their best and stay healthy as they age. However, we are bombarded with so much information every day that it can be difficult to determine what is best for our health, and preventative healthcare can be a confusing topic. Different messages about wellbeing are conveyed and determining which advice to follow can be difficult. However, leading a healthy lifestyle does not have to be difficult. By developing this easy-to-follow-along initiative, the two businesses hope to create a move ment that will see Batswana into a new era of holistic and healthy living. At the end of this campaign, it is the hope that more Batswana will follow along in gearing towards being Fit for Life.


Botswana Society For The Deaf Gives A Voice To The Deaf And Mute

More often than not, society overlooks the needs, support, and care of the deaf community. This is especially prevalent in Botswana.

It was not until 1978, when Dr. Ian Kennedy initiated the first Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Clinic in Bamalete Lutheran Hospital in Ra motswa through funds from Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM) in Germany, that the deaf com munity started gaining a voice.

He recognized a need for the deaf population to be educated and included in societal devel opment.

Subsequently, this led Mr. Ronald Stanley Fish to found the Ramotswa Society for the Deaf (RSD), which was formed and initiated as the first unit for the Deaf in Ramotswa.

The second school was in Francistown, called Fran cistown Centre for the Deaf. This was built on a need to establish a coordinating center that resulted in forming the Botswana Society for the Deaf (BSD), which governs both sites of Ramotswa and Francistown.

Botswana Society for the Deaf is a Non-Governmen tal organization aimed at advocating for the needs and welfare of the Deaf community in Botswana. BSD owns and oversees Ramotswa and Francistown Center for Deaf Education which are the first two primary Schools in Botswana for the Deaf. By 2013 the student enrolment in the two schools in Francistown and Ramotswa stood at 250 for Pre and Primary intake, 70 teaching staff, and 75 auxiliary staff. BSD also accredited Sign Language Training Program level 3 with BQA.

The Public Relations Officer at BSD, Carol Kgomot so, opened up about the milestones and challenges the organization has faced over the years. She highlight


ed that despite the expected adversities, the society is determined to make progressive change and ultimately establish what the founder set out to achieve.

“It’s our greatest objective to be a Botswana where the rights of the Deaf and hard of hearing are fully met. To achieve this, we promote the rights, needs, and welfare of the Deaf population and their families through advocacy, education, care and support, and community mobiliza tion,” she explained.

Kgomotso added that the Botswana Society for the Deaf maintains a strong track record in deaf advocacy and empowerment, which can be seen through the work carried out by BSD’s two centers, Ramotswa & Fran cistown Center for Deaf Education. Through these two centers, deaf pupils receive pre-primary and primary ed ucation; the two centers are overseen by BSD in collabo ration with the Botswana Government and the Ministry of Basic Education.

BSD has also been at the forefront of easing the com munication barrier between the deaf and mainstream society through offering interpretation services. It is through these services that deaf individuals within the country are now fully aware that if they need an inter preter wherever they may need to seek services, BSD will assist.


The BSD is committed to working more efficiently with the Government of Botswana, its sponsors, and donors to help advance its Deaf Advocacy Agenda of being a

Botswana that works towards ratifying the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CPRD). The organization intends to achieve this through its outreach expansion and engagement plan that will target Batswa na, employers, tuition providers, and policy/law makers.

And as a result of the efforts made by the organisa tion in 2020, 4000 people were reached using the Deaf Awareness Campaign. Through BSD’s efforts over the past few years, students were enrolled at reputable institutions; for example, two students enrolled abroad at Gallaudet University in Washington DC, USA, in 2019. Locally 61 students were enrolled at GIPS for ICT Certif icate, and one student was enrolled at Botho University for a degree program during the years 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively.

The organisation’s collaboration with BITRI has enabled them to facilitate the development of the Sign Coach App which will on a high scale improve commu nication, and broaden recognition and inclusivity of the Deaf community socio-economically, and technological ly. The BITRI license is in its last stages of issuance to BSD.

Furthermore, BSD facilitated 91 jobs (37 male: 54 fe male) for the Deaf in 18 retail stores throughout Botswa na. In the last few years, BSD also worked on addressing Deaf socio bottlenecks. For example, a BSD/Botswana Accountancy College App is under development to en sure accessibility of Social communication from toll-free numbers by the Deaf in cases of emergency. In addition, BSD has facilitated the marriages of 3 Deaf couples


and continues to work with the Attorney General on court case representations for the Deaf. Improving the limitation of the Deaf Youth to access economic funding will be among the areas of intervention within their next chapter.

In addition to this, sign language training will be provided online, and BSD level 5 BQA Accreditation is at its final stage and is currently being piloted. And the


Kgomotso highlighted that like many organizations worldwide, Covid-19 did not spare BSD. The pandemic had devastating socio-economic impacts that have affected the Deaf. In 2020, BSD revised its constitution which was adopted at a Special AGM on the 20th of May 2020. Botswana was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in the loss of lives of the BSD beneficiaries who were affected.

Other socio-economic issues such as Gen der Based Violence (GBV) and depression led to suicide by some of the members from the circumstances related to Covid-19. Some of the members of the Deaf community lost jobs, especially those working in the retail industry. Furthermore, government subven tions were frozen, all of these affected the Deaf community. BSD and the Ministry of Health partnered to do a Covid-19 pandemic assessment of the Deaf community, which provided recommendations for future pro gramming responses to Covid-19 for the Deaf.

She also added that sex education has become very important for the deaf commu nity as they have shown a keen interest in marriage and being sexually active. It is thus imperative for the organization to develop sex education for the population to be able to take better care of themselves and their loved ones. They are taught about STDs, Pregnancy Prevention, Prep, and Protection.

Sign Language Digital Dictionary is complete and will be accessed online. Finally the digital dictionary also will be launched shortly.


Pioneering sustainable biodiversity and community-based knowledge

Since the establishment of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the business world, this practice has always been encapsulated in the tradition of philanthropy and has focused on education, health, religious activities, and women empowerment. What most people and organiza tions overlook is that CSR is also referred to as a business responsibility and an organisation's action on environ mental, ethical, social, and economic issues.

BirdLife Botswana (BLB) is a not-for-profit conservation organization registered with the Botswana Registrar of So cieties to preserve and protect bird life and its environment in every dimension of the business, sharing ecotourism's benefits with the communities that they work alongside. BirdLife Botswana was established in 1980, although before 2000, it was called Botswana Bird Club. The Society is the official representative of BirdLife Internation al in Botswana and a member of Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO) and

World Conservation Union.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BirdLife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootsisitse, walked us through the organisation's mandate and some of the CSR initiatives they have undertaken over the years and recently.

He explained that BirdLife Botswana’s objectives are to encourage and promote an interest in and knowledge of birds and bird-watching, as well as to undertake, encourage and assist ornithological fieldwork, research, and recording within Botswana, while promoting and making advice and recommendations to the appropri ate organisation (including government departments and agencies) on the formulation and enforcement of programs and legislation relating to the conservation of birds and their habitats.

BirdLife Botswana has also designed, coordinated, and contributed data. It was involved in numerous national and sub-regional projects including the pub lication of Bird Atlas of Botswana, a Birds of Botswana


field guide, Selected Botswana Biodiversity Indicators, Atlas of Southern African Birds, Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Southern Africa, biannual waterfowl counts (as part of Wetlands International's African Water fowl Census Programme) and monitoring of Wattled Cranes, Southern Ground Hornbills, Lesser Flamingo, Slaty Egret, Kori Bustards, Short-clawed Lark, Lap pet-faced Vultures, and Cape Vultures.

The Society also collects data on bird ecology and distribution via the Bird Population Monitoring pro gram, a Nest Record Scheme, and records of rare birds. BirdLife also produces promotional materials such as brochures, posters, and calendars and celebrates bird awareness days such as, World Migratory Bird Day, and other environmental days with the public.


But most importantly, BLB established a community outreach program called ‘Empowering People,’ which is a dedicated vehicle for promoting conservation awareness, education, and the empowerment of local communities, through the sustainable use of endemic resources. BirdLife Botswana operates under the no tion that to establish a healthy ecosystem in Botswana, they will rely on the support of surrounding local communities. They believe that education is the pillar that will uphold and support sustainable conservation, and the organisation is actively involved with the next generation of conservationists and environmental leaders.


A Site Support Group (SSG) is an organised group of like-minded local people living in or around an im portant biodiversity site, interacting with and sustain ably using its resources (at different levels) in pursuit of common interest. All SSG operations are guided by a clear vision, mission, objectives, and activities, and the SSG embraces the principles of sustainable use to manage natural resources. The form and set-up of SSGs vary: they may be self-help groups, Communi ty-based Organisations (CBOs), bird-watching or guid ing groups, or even sport clubs, but they must always have an environmental agenda.

BirdLife Botswana has had several of these since it started engaging with local communities to form SSGs with funding from the SwedBio project that aimed to sustain biodiversity and sustain livelihoods in rural Botswana.

Training Local Bird Guides

Birdlife Botswana is promoting birding tourism (avi-tourism) as a way of diversifying Botswana's tourism product and empowering Batswana to be come involved in the tourism industry while at the same time assisting with bird monitoring through

out the country.

“The cornerstone of our approach is the training of specialist bird guides. These guides are trained and accredited by BirdLife Botswana and are contactable di rectly (or through the nearest BirdLife Botswana office) should their services be required,” explained Kootsisitse.

Environmental Education Wrap-up for Schools

The organization has designed biodiversity education al programs for scholars at different levels. They have a program for younger children at the primary school level. Learners are taught what the environment is and explain what it consists of. They are taken on bird walks around the schools, spotting birds and identifying them. "In class, we try to make it interesting by not focusing on the theory part as it might bore the students," said Kootsisitse.

"As for universities and senior school students, pre sentation on a certain environmental topic is shared with them. Students show a keen interest in how birds can travel long distances in a magical way and back. And this has helped us in drawing a lot of memberships from schools. Vulture awareness is one of the topics I also present to universities that has also made such a great impact on how students have been viewing vultures. It made them understand their importance to the ecosys tem and the environment in general," he added.

BirdLife Botswana remains active in providing services to its members, which are the valuable mainstay of BLB. It continues to be heavily involved in education and outreach, and to undertake research, and evolve in conservation.

Motshereganyi Virat Kootsositse CEO of Birdlife Botswana


The United Nations recognises young people as a critical human resource for development and as agents of social change, economic growth, and technological innovation. The United Nations strength ened its commitment to young people in 1995 when it adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), an international strategy to address their problems more effectively and increase opportunities for youth participation in society. Through UN General Assembly Resolution 58/133, the international community reaffirmed its commitment to youth participation, emphasizing the importance of full and effective participation of youth and youth organisations at the local, national, regional, and international levels in promoting and implementing the World Programme of Action and in evaluating the progress achieved and the obstacles encountered in its implementation. In Botswana one youth-run NGO is heeding the UN on this call. Care for Humanity is an NGO le veraging youth efforts to make a meaningful impact on communities. The story of this organisation is told by the organisation’s Founding Director, Afreen Dhansay.

Young people are empowered through active participation to play an important role in their own development and that of their communities, assisting them in learning essential life skills, developing knowledge of human rights and citizen ship, as well as promoting positive civic action. Participation in work that makes a


difference is a basic human right that is needed the most right now as many communities are finding their feet from the ripple effects of Covid-19. This is one of the guiding principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it has been echoed in numerous other conventions and declarations. To effectively participate, young people must be provided with the necessary tools, such as information, education, and access to their civil rights. Pas sionate and affectionate, Afreen Dhansay has found her purpose in helping communities through empowering the youth to get involved in community work. Afreen is the founding director of NGO Care for Humanity which was established in 2019, just before COVID started. The organisation was forged by a small circle of friends and it was established to address the needs of those who have not been so fortunate in life. Between 2019 and 2020 the organisation gained some traction but activities were unfortunately halted by the Covid-19 pandemic that forced many into mandatory movement restric tions. Once Covid-19 started to clear the group resumed activities and have since grown substantially. They grew not only by the number of communities they serve but have seen a rise in volunteers and other stakeholders taking a keen interest in being part of this movement. As a youth-run organisation Care for Humanity strategically targeted volunteers who are under the age of 21 as a means of instilling a sense of community in them and allowing them the opportunity to get hands-on work experience by helping those in need.

TRC: Please provide a brief background of Care for Humanity AD: Care for Humanity is hugely centered around providing relief and assis tance throughout the country.

As a project that started in Gaborone we have had our reach in Gaborone and surrounding areas. What typically happens is that team members would identify potential beneficiaries and then we would do an assessment of the need and how we can get involved. Once a project has been approved we physically go assess the situation and then we provide our assistance how ever best possible. Care for Humanity currently has two main focus areas; providing assistance and relief for those in need throughout the country as well as encouraging youth involvement in community impact projects to instill in them a sense of responsibility and care for humanity from the grass roots levels. The average age for our team members and volunteers is 21 and we believe that this is impactful both for communities and for the volunteers themselves.

Before beginning work with us, the majority of volunteers don’t really know where they belong, and so they come to the organisation looking to establish a sense of purpose and belonging. We recognise that not everyone has the ability to address their needs and those of their families and we firmly believe that the most human action to apply in these instances is to channel resources towards helping those members of society that have not been so fortunate. We allow team members and volunteers to interact with potential


beneficiaries, we let them empathise and propose potential solutions for those situations. This provi sion of relief tends to be more sustainable because when you allow young people to get creative in coming up with solutions they can see beyond just the current challenges but they can find other ways to prevent those same problems happening again. We help families and communities with basic ne cessities, food, clothing, and in some instances with shelter. Based on the assessments we run we help families with an array of things such as school fees, stationery, groceries and other monthly necessities on a case by case basis.

TRC: Who are the key beneficiaries of Care for Humanity and how do you identify them?

AD: As alluded to before, for new projects we nor mally have either volunteers or strategic partners identify a specific individual or community in need and we will run an assessment to gauge how much work we need to invest in this particular case. Our strategic partners include some other NGOs and Human Rights organisations such as Ditsh wanelo - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Childline Trust, Centre for Gender Based Violence and they play a vital role in helping us identify areas that need relief and aid. We're currently working in Ranaka village. We started off by visiting one person who we knew personally who stays in the village and she just mentioned that there are a lot of humanitarian challenges in her village. Most peo ple don’t have access to basic needs such as direct access to clean water and other key essentials. The team immediately went to do the assessment to see where we could be of aid.

We started off Care for Humanity providing assistance and relief mainly to vulnerable children. The reason for this was that the first project we undertook was offering aid to two orphanages. The SOS Children's Village in Tlokweng, and the Ga modubu Children's Home in Gamodubu. I would go there in my personal capacity and free time with my sisters, and we created a little bit of a bond with the children and in that instance we also identified gaps that we could close ourselves. Although the children are in shelters and get basic necessities, we could not ignore the fact that their lives were not ideal. With the help of my friends we found it fitting to bring a little bit of light and happiness to their lives. The NGO officially started with a focus on vulnerable children. We tried to help mostly orphaned and vulnerable children in the villages - those in shelters and those who are living with other family members that are struggling to meet the needs of the children.

Another key player throughout our journey is Learn to Play - Ithute Go Tshameka which has allowed us to do interaction or learn to play pro grams. This got us interacting with the kids, trying to create a safe space for them to tell us about their challenges. We then moved on to helping families


who are providing for many small children, and now we help everybody that comes our way with a key focus on orphans and vulnerable children.

As orphans and vulnerable children are a key focus area of ours, we try by all means to address any request for aid. In families where we believe that our work could be needed, we start off by assessing the amount of people that are in the family and we do like a brief observation looking at how the conditions are at home, that is, do they stay in a proper house? Is the house livable and other factors such as access to water and other basic necessities.

In some families, it is immediately obvious that these people really require aid. Where it's not so obvious, we then bring forth a more holistic assessment.

TRC: What are some of the activities and initia tives you plan on undertaking soon to create an impact in the lives of Botswana?

AD: Care for Humanity is currently in the early stag es where we are establishing ourselves both from an organisational structure point of view as well as from a specialised or focus area of delivery. We are register ing Care for Humanity as a Trust and not as an NGO under the Registrar of Societies. Although this process is taking some time we are on this ground doing all the work we can. Ahead of officially operating as a Trust we have pooled some resources from volunteers and team members to solve the pressing issue of running water and sanitation in Mmanoko village. We have initiated the process of drilling a borehole in Mmanoko village.


Believe Again Foundation Instills Hope In People Suffering From Abuse

Inspired by a painful personal background, a young woman in the North Eastern part of the country started her organisation called Believe Again Foundation to stop the reoccurrence of abuse in women and children in Botswana. After losing her younger sister to what she believes was an abusive boyfriend, and being rejected by her mother as a young child, Elena Habangana established a haven where women and children seek emotional healing from the harsh realities they endure from loved ones and society. Believe Again has become a place of peace and solace for the abused and abandoned population in the North East District of Botswana.

Today Habangana is a mother, a wife, a sister, and most importantly, a beacon of hope within her community. She represents a second chance to those who have lost all hope in life. In her own words, Habangana explains why and how she started the Believe Again Foundation.

TRC: Tell our readers about Believe Again Founda tion and why it was established?

EH: At Believe Again, we welcome all women, whether they are married or single, whether they are mothers or youth. We also advocate for the well-being of children, both boys, and girls. My passion to help women comes naturally to me because I feel like I know the basic needs of most women; one of the most important of those needs being a listening ear. Having someone to listen to you as a woman can unburden you and maybe even save your life. One of my missions when I started the foundation was to become the person who listens more than the person who speaks.

One thing I noticed as I casually had conversations with women in different spaces is that as women in our society, there are no "safe" spaces we can go to and speak and be listened to. There are no places we can go for sound, unbiased, and non-judgemental advice. The kind of conversations I am talking about do not involve finan cial advice; women seek people to listen so they can heal emotionally. Some women live in toxic environments where brutal words are used on them daily to break them. These women need emotional healing, and being the person that listens sometimes gives that healing.

So by setting up this organisation, I wanted to be a listening ear for women. And contrary to what many

would assume, we do not only talk about issues of relationships and marriages. Women are abused at work, within their families, by friends, and by society at large. We have partnered with other organisations that have the learned skills and capabilities to deal with healing the emotional aspect that has been broken by abuse in women.

A few years ago, I lost my younger sister because of the silence within our families. She was found dead, and it was concluded a suicide, but I know it was the boyfriend. And I feel that our parents and society by not giving us an ear, are destroying us, and they are allowing those monsters out there to kill us because we are vulnerable, and we end up falling prey to evil predators.

Believe Again is also involved in the well-being of children. This is quite close to my heart because I initiated this based on my upbringing. I was raised by a single mother. My mother was quite angry and resentful; she offloaded the pain caused by my father on me. So growing up, I grew up scared of my mother and everyone around me because of the way she treated me.

Throughout my childhood, I felt like I was a mistake and I didn't deserve to be alive. But as I grew older, I grew stronger and wiser, and I reached a point where I decided to start loving myself and taking better care of myself. So when I set up Believe Again, it was based on my experience growing up. It was import


ant to me to help children experiencing what I experienced that no matter the harsh circumstances they came from, they should 'Believe Again' and know that they too can become someone important someday.

The generations behind mine are more assertive than we were, but they are also more sensitive, which makes them vulnerable. So they need guidance in navigating and finding strength out of challenging circumstances. Children these days are more depressed and even commit suicide more than we did during my days. So as Believe Again, our goal is to show the children that we work with and that there is hope. We want to instill faith in them and teach them how to live a happy life even though they may be going through rejection and abandonment. And I believe that my childhood experience has equipped me with the right tools to help them overcome and believe again.

TRC: How does your organization approach CSR and what types of the initiative have you done or are current ly working on?

EH: I am a motivational speaker, so the contributions Believe Again impacts on society is through talking and most impor tantly, through listening. So basically, we do a lot of counseling for those who seek solace in our foundation. We are currently working towards building a shelter for abused women so that they have room on their heads to run to when they feel that their lives are in danger. We also have plans of building a community home for the boys and girls who need our services. Based on where and how I grew up, I always wished there would be a place I could have gone to where I would feel safe and protect ed, and this is what I want to build for vulnerable children.

At Believe Again, we believe in empowering people to help themselves when we can't. We are also looking into taking the people we identify for short courses so they have the founda tions to start their own lives after leaving abusive situations.

TRC: How does Believe Again benefit from the charity work you do?

EH: By giving back, we are fully fulfilled. If we can change and transform people's lives at a go, that is all the benefit we can ask for. Us giving hope to the people we interact with also motivates us to continue affecting change within our community.

TRC: What challenges have you faced since starting the foundation?

EH: Finance because not a lot of people believed in us. They think we are like some fly-by-night organisation that wants to make money out of people and disappear. But we have resorted to using the money I get from my day job to fund the foundation because this is my passion, it is my calling. We have aspirations of touching and helping lives throughout the country, and we will persevere.


Sentebale On A Quest To Empower Vulnerable Youth In Botswana

The global fight against the scourge of HIV/AIDS has been somewhat successful; nations have triumphed in reducing the HIV/AIDS deathrelated numbers significantly. However, this does not mean HIV/ AIDS is not affecting communities; it still is. And this is why it is critical for the global community to eliminate HIV/AIDS as a public threat. This also means young people should be fully engaged and at the forefront of the response.

While progress has been made in reducing HIV prevalence, there are still many socio-eco nomic issues that need to

be addressed. Many organizations in the civil sector understand that to address the impact of HIV/AIDS they have to address all other associated issues such as stigma, low self-esteem, and confidence.

Sentebale is an organization that has positioned itself well in offering children and young people the tools required to navigate the world once they’ve been infected with or affected by HIV/ AIDS. To unpack this tenet further, we spoke with Sentebale's Senior Advocacy and Communications Officer, Olerato Keegope.


Sentebale was founded in 2006 as a response to the needs of children and young people in Lesotho by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, and Prince Seei so. The name, which means "forget-me-not" in Ses

otho, represents a pledge to remember the region's affected and vulnerable children. The organization began by assisting with the basic needs of children and young people, and as time passed, a need arose


to address the root causes of poverty and inequality in order to support children and young people. Over the years, there has been a strong focus on HIV/AIDS through psycho social support, community outreach work, and the purpose-built center where children living with HIV can attend week-long camps and receive comprehensive support.

“There is visible progress in combating HIV/AIDS globally, and Sentebale continues to address some of the broader issues raised

reach children and young people in Leso tho and Botswana living with or affected by HIV, focusing on the most vulnerable, who are faced with issues of deprivation, ex ploitation, abuse, or neglect. They may also be disadvantaged or marginalized because of mental health issues, sexual and gen der-based violence, alcohol or substance abuse, sexual orientation, stigma, or other obstacles to their health and well-being,” explained Keegope.

Sentebale's work is centered on children and young people and utilises a collab orative, insight-led, and evidence-based approach to designing and sustaining programs. The organisation listens to the needs and expectations of beneficiaries and ensures the protection of their rights. Sentebale empowers young people by en suring their safety and confidence, as well as their ability to lead and advocate for themselves and their peers. Compassion, respect, sustainability, and accountability are central to the work.


Through empowering young people to have their voices, Sentebale sees this as a benefit as it gives them the opportunity to seek solutions for themselves and over come the challenges they have.

“As an organization, we believe young people should be heard and given a chance to shape their future. We provide advice, education, and training to help young peo ple understand local policy and the legal system. We encourage young people to advocate for improved health, education, and social protection rights and services, among other things, by working with our youth advocates, trained professionals, and specialist partners,” added Keegope.

The primary benefit of this approach is that the young are empowered to shape their future, and Sentebale facilitates this by offering advice, education, and training to help young people understand local policy and the legal system. The youth are further encouraged to advocate for issues that affect them, which translates to them impacting their peers more positively.


by children and young people. Even though our working methods have evolved, our primary focus on children and young people remains a constant. Sentebale continues to

Most of the activities in the organisation are youth-focused, and by serving indi viduals between ages 15 to 18, Sentebale empowers them through up-skilling.

Keegope further added that they lever


age strategic partnerships to deliver skills training such as entrepreneur ship which helps their beneficiaries gain a deeper understanding of the skills they can use to elevate them selves. At the age of 15, their busi ness ideas would typically consist of popsicles, litter-picking, and other related activities that don't require a large amount of start-up capital.

"The most important thing is for them to grasp the concept well. We answer questions such as, how do you prepare for starting a business? How do you manage your financ es? How do you speak to investors?

Those are some of the things that we want to focus on. Outside of this, we look for other issues that most communities need assistance with and these range from mental health, academic excellence, and in come-generating activities related to the socio-economic empowerment of children and young people. The world is changing, so we empower the children to be ready for the next few years of their lives,” she empha sized.


Advocating for youth is important because it fosters a more responsible society. It can be used to raise aware ness about what is best for young people and to assist them in locating the information they require to make better decisions at a stage where their opinions are still in formation. Sentebale strongly believes that young people should be empowered to shape their futures..


As an organization that strongly believes that everyone in the com munity has a shared responsibility to ensure that children and young people grow in a safe and nurturing environment; collaborating with members of the community, health care workers, and young people to create a safe space for open dialogue on youth issues is essential. This in

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cludes discussions with caregivers about sexual and reproductive health and rights, advice on parent-child communication, and working together to ensure young people have access to stigma-free services.

Keegope highlighted that there are many noticeable gaps in different com munities that Sentebale intends to fill and support, especially in the creative space. “We are not creatives, but we have estab lished how we facilitate the link between our beneficiaries, and the people who can help them expand their ideas. This is a huge part of what our future looks like and strengthening our advocacy efforts and ensuring that policy and program ming truly speak to the needs of children and young people,” she said.

The most important contribution they make to society is by helping develop a generation concerned with the future and willing to work hard to improve it. Many young people are unaware of the tremen dous opportunities available to them, or what it takes to achieve greatness. The answer lies within everyone's potential, and Sentebale is a partner in unlocking the great potential of youth, despite the challenges they may face.


HER Voice Fund: Giving Women And Girls A Voice

Advocacy has emerged as a key strategy for encouraging leadership commitment to the goals of improving human life and devel opment. Advocacy is critical in maintaining political, cultural, and economic leaders' in terest and support for HIV/AIDS, which is widely regarded as the greatest development challenge facing humanity. Leaders at the highest levels of society in Africa are increasingly involved in defining visions for the continent's rapid rebirth and progress. In line with this, many young leaders are rallying up other members of the community in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the effects that it brings with it. Millicent Sethaile HER Voice Fund Botswana Ambassador uses her voice to touch the lives of those around her. As a reproductive health activist, grant manager, and development consultant she pairs her passion and zeal with personal and professional experience to make an impact in the healthcare space in Botswana.


MS: The Global Network of Young People Living with HIV (Y+ Global) implements the HER Voice Fund to help ado lescent girls and young women (AGYW) have a meaningful voice in decisions that affect their lives. ViiV Healthcare Posi tive Action and the Global Fund contributes to the HER Voice Fund. Since the inception of the HER Voice Fund programme in 2018, I have played the role of the country ambassador. The HER Voice initiative is implemented regionally (only in East and Southern Africa). In Botswana, the HER Voice initiative has funded organizations focusing on the rights of Lesbians and transgender young women, young mothers, unemployed young girls, and young women living with disabilities.


MS: In Botswana the high incidence of HIV amongst adoles cent girls and young women has required urgent investment in programmes that target the significant drivers of infection by keeping girls in school, addressing gender norms to reduce violence, and improving their access to health-care services. In response to the above, the Global Fund has invested over US$200 million since 2017 in multi-sectoral and combina tion HIV prevention programs that include a plethora of services consisting of structural, biomedical, and behavioural interventions. These investments also prioritize the linkage between HIV-SRH services and integrated approaches for delivering services to adolescents and young women on different platforms. The HER Voice Fund essentially exists to give adolescent girls and young women a voice – a right to choose and a right to live more holistically.


MS: The Global Fund is a global movement dedicated to eradicating HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria and ensuring a healthier, safer, and more equitable future for all. The organization raises and invests $4 billion per year in more than 100 countries to combat the deadliest infectious diseases, challenges, and injustices that fuel them. Fur thermore, it strengthens health systems by bringing together world leaders, communities, civil society, health workers, and the private sector to figure out what works and scale it up so that the world can make more progress, faster. The Global Fund currently has one active investment in Botswana: A multicomponent grant of up to US$25 mil lion allocated for 2022-2024. This funding supports interventions that are helping Botswana make continued progress toward bold targets for reductions in HIV and TB infections and deaths.


MS: Several interventions have been implemented in Botswana to respond to the high rates of HIV infection and SRH needs of young women. These programmes have targeted biomedical, structural, and behavioral factors. Examples of successful programmes we have funded since 2020 include:

• Protect. Promote. Defend: Ensuring that LBQT AYGW women are resilient and actively participating and contribut ing to the development of national laws and policies aligned


to human rights principles. The project envisions a society with strong, inclusive AYGW communities and movements that effectively promote human rights, accountability, and inclusive development in Botswana.

• Young Mothers Support Programme, a project that sup ports pregnant AGYW and mothers living in adverse condi tions in Botswana’s poor neighborhoods in Gaborone, to be re-integrated into the community. This is done through the creation of safe spaces for engagements, improving repre sentation, and skills training.

• ENHANCING VOICES OF AGYW, a project that sup ports AGYW in Gaborone, Francistown, and surrounding areas to complete a capacity-building programme aimed at increasing knowledge and utilization of health services

• The Missing link- Mainstreaming Anti Gender-Based Violence, Child Rape, Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Advocacy in Adolescent and Young Women in Botswana, a project that engages adolescent and young women in advocating for their sexual and reproductive health, as well as provides capacity-building aimed at eradicating gender-based violence (GBV)

MS: Our main aim as HER Voice Fund going forward is to continue to create platforms for the promotion of adolescents and young women`s participation in decision-making processes. I as the country ambassador and the country lead work towards building the skills and knowledge of young women on issues of leadership for them to advocate for their own health rights. We will improve the capacity among AGYW whilst also providing platforms that enable them to participate in decision-making structures such as community technical working groups and other decision-making mechanisms. The funding to community-based organizations will also continue to grow with the will to fund more organizations.


MS: We have seen the engagements of over 500 young women in training sessions, workshops and meetings that focus on advocacy and policy reviews. Recently having some community-based orga


MS: My desire is to see more young women in rooms of influ ence that I too seat in so that our voices have a greater impact in changing the narrative of youth leadership and empowerment. The investments made to healthcare financing are prioritized by our governments so that no girl drops out of school due to teenage pregnancy due to the lack of education and services for sexual reproductive health. Together we can end HIV new infections and sexual reproductive health challenges in Botswana. I certainly would like to see more collaborative efforts between government institutions, the civil and private sector and well as communities in fighting issues that continue impede our progress.

nizations take part in the just-ended National Constitution Review which contributed their voices of impact. Through all the various communities we engage with, we have also noted an increase in participation in the healthcare right space. We believe as an organ isation that the ripple effects of our work will continue to be felt years from now.

Glotto: Unifying African Voices

Six years ago, an ambitious young woman and her friend sat in the tiny corners of her dorm room creating what would become a world-recognized fashion brand with a global reach of over 40 000. Glotto is an apparel brand that makes Afrocen tric unisex garments that are made in Botswana. Growing from humble beginnings, this brand has been-featured in numerous local newspapers and international magazines and online publications such as Afro Punk, Elle, and True Africa, to name a few. In line with this, they participated in the Global Expo 2019 and were named one of the ten finalists for the Brand Botswana Dubai Expo.

The brand's aesthetic is not only translated through fashion but also conceptual storytelling. Glotto’s Creative Director, Mboko Basiami, recently graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration specialising in International Business. She expressed immense excitement for the next chapter of the brand as she will now apply her knowledge to the business that has been operating for the past six years.


The creative duo being, Mboko Basiami, and Sadie Simanyana not


only shared an interest in fashion but in unifying Africans through their art. To help us understand the origin of the brand Glotto’s Creative Director, Mboko Basiami took us through Glotto’s epic journey. The Glotto brand exists to be Africa’s ultimate storyteller and uses these stories to em power Africans across the region. This youth-established, citizen-owned brand is nested around meaningful senti ment than mere apparel – every piece is designed to tell a story. Glotto is derived from the word "Glottology," which refers to the study of languages or tongues.

Africans have significantly similar languages. The Glotto duo calls this the power of the tongue which is fitting to the definition of the word Glotto.

“Simple phrases across Africa can have the same mean ing. A good example is the popular Swahili phrase, ‘Hakuna Matata,' which translates to 'Ga gona mathata' in Setswana. Both meaning, 'There is no problem.'

The evolution of this self-sustaining business is hugely attributed to building on a very iterative business model which is focused on human interest and being part of a community that advocates for issues such as the expression of youth voices, bolstering progress on society's important issues such as diversity and inclusion.


As an evolving, youth-owned creative brand, Glotto trans lates its aesthetic through conceptual storytelling. The brand embodies the Sub-Saharan glow that Mboko believes all young Batswana possess. She encourages all to shine beyond their limitations to achieve that #Glottoglow. This creative brand encourages young people to know, under

stand and celebrate their roots.

Over the years, all Glotto designs continue to be inspired by African land scapes, thus making the brand relatable while playing a vital role in preserving our cultures as Africans. No matter where one is in the world, Glotto is always reminiscent of Africa; the bright orange sunsets, the hues of the land scape, and the vivid colors of the desert sand and plants. Each garment uniquely and thoughtfully created using sustain able fabrics meaning that the brand will be transcendent into the future.

Beyond being a symbol of heritage, Glotto subtly addresses pressing issues in the region. Glotto released the #sadgrls2k16 bodysuit collection in 2016 to honor the tears shed by African women in a society riddled with gen der-based violence and inequality.

"If you remember, the infamous case of an underage girl's sexual assault shook our beloved country. Glotto, like the rest of the country, vowed never to forget. Another incident to remember is the bus rank assault, which painfully re minded us that we still have a long way to go when it comes to gender equality and respect for the African woman," Basiami explained.

Glotto seeks to advocate for issues that affect the youth, such as self-assurance, bravery, and having a close relationship with nature and the environ ment.


Since its inception, Glotto has been a self-sustaining business that leverages strategic partnerships for the growth of both the brand and the people that it exists to serve. This Afrocentric ready-to-wear clothing brand has color schemes inspired by Botswana landscapes such as the Okavango Delta, the Makgadikgadi salt pans, and the Kgalagadi Desert.

The color schemes in every collection thus far have been heavily influenced by the hues of Sub-Saharan sands and the earthy tones of the Savannah, desert plants, and the color schemes found in different sites across the region. Glotto has successfully captured the attention of young people by instilling pride in their heritage and skin colors. Through this, the brand celebrates diversity and encourages young Africans to embrace who they are.

Glotto complements all genders, body types, and skin tones of all shades and is a true testament that we are one people, and we should celebrate our different back grounds and stand united.

“Glotto is very much grounded on African principles such as Ubuntu. Having all our garments inspired by dif ferent landscapes in the region, we want to demonstrate the idea that being united is better for us as it amplifies our voices,” further detailed Mboko..

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