The Responsible Citizen - March 2023

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ESG And Sustainable Finance Forum 2023

BRAINSTREAM: A Future-focused Approach to Learning

NAGA NATURALS on Creating Sustainable Solutions through nature’s beauty

TECHSTARS GLOBAL NETWORK: Unleashing Start-up Potential in Botswana



MARCH 2023 | ISSUE 6
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. To feature your CSI mission and advertise your business with us, contact: Tel: +267 3116813 / 73 329 959 Email: |


12 | Botswana ESG and Sustainable Finance Forum 2023 to unpack investment strategies for sustainable value creation

15 | Techstars Global Network: Unleashing start-up potential in Botswana

18 | MatchAPro - Advancing inclusive healthcare through tech

22 | Green Fuel CSR Work: Education and empowerment of women through Vimbo Projects

2 | THE RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN | BUSINESS • COMMUNITY • IMPACT Contents 06 | Founder’s Welcome 07 | Editor’s Note 09 | Botho Treats on upliftment and power through mindfulness practices
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26 | Sustyvibes: Empowering communities to take action on environmental sustainability

30 | Covert Sustainability: How effective are sustainability certification entities?

32 | The art of a woman: NAGA naturals on creating sustainable solutions through nature’s beauty


34 | BrainSTREAM: Futurefocused approach to learning

39 | Breaking down barriers: How Beyond The Classroom Foundation is changing the face of education

42 | The South African car industry should be at the forefront of the energy crisis

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EDITORIAL Founder and Editor

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

Yvonne C Mtengwa Narratives PR FZ-LLC Dubai, UAE


Lorraine Kinnear

Daphine Mabhiza

Peter Kinuthia

Zimkhita Kweza

Bem Abubakar

Thembile Legwaila



Lucy Nkosi





Published by Narratives PR LLC – FZ Registered at Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) United Arab Emirates
2023 • ISSUE 6

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Founder’s Welcome

It’s always a pleasure to present to you our latest Issue, and with this one being our 6th since our rebrand, we are thankful that you continue to choose us as your preferred choice for a publication centered on CSR and CSI initiatives. The first quarter of the year 2023 is characterised by heightened business activity, and the conversation on everyone’s lips is the fact that the year seems to be progressing all too fast for most people, given the increasing workloads that are synonymous with the turn of a new year. I would have to say that I do agree with that notion. The environment has indeed picked up and we would like to keep the momentum along with the current business landscape. In our last Issue, I mentioned that we are working on establishing the Magazine as a Pan African publication that not only looks at Botswana, but covers the rest of Africa. I am pleased to share that as we work on our strategy to position ourselves as a digital Pan-African publication with a global perspective, our goal remains to outline and promotes sustainability through positive change and advocacy.

As businesses grow, there is focus on other areas that facilitate sustainable businesses, including the notion and practice of integrating Environmental, Societal and Governance (ESG) issues into operational frameworks. ESG has become a new way of doing business where in some cases, governments are making it a legal requirement for companies to consider producing reports on their impact on ESG. Investors also use ESG information and application to make decisions regarding their investments. ESG will surely be a topic and practice of focus into the future and will be a yard stick that measures business sustainability and of course, we will be on the pulse of bringing you updates on this every exciting subject!


Mpho KgosietsileMoletlo


Editor’s Note D

elighted to be back this year, with a careful study of the rolling tides of time as they relate to Botswana and the wider region, given our thrust to take The Responsible Citizen Magazine to new heights by profiling corporate entities, individuals and community champions across the continent. Consumers want what they want and now more

than ever, there is a growing consciousness of their needs, finding and collaborating with brands and businesses that truly understand customer preferences. Add to it consciousness from the perspective of the consumer, be it of the environment, impact on society, raw material sourcing and so much more. We are seeing more end users holding a degree of curiosity over what impact organisations have within the landscapes they operate, and if any good can come from their subsequent purchasing choices. Are companies creating opportunities for women, youth, the underprivileged or handicapped? Are they partnering with non-profits to deploy diverse approaches that create equal opportunities and access for underrepresented communities? Are practices sustainable in product sourcing and is the future value of natural resources under consideration during the raw material extraction process? One thing is for sure, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) matters, are garnering traction as more governments and institutions unpack organizational footprint and processes that limit negative impact or enhance positive impact on the environment, society, and governance bodies. We are excited to see how these and other topics evolve during the course of 2023, and look forward to bringing you more heartwarming stories of individuals across Africa, who are making it their personal mandate to provide solutions that advance the wellbeing of their communities and places they hope to see thrive.

Yours truly,

YvonneC.Mtengw a


Botho Treats On Upliftment And Power Through Mindfulness Practices

We have been afforded an important opportunity in the pandemic of 2020 – that of self-reflection and paying closer attention to our well-being. 3 years after this much-needed pause, Beth McGroarty of the Global Wellness Institute reports that in 2023 there will be a radical shift in consumer attitudes toward wellness, with attitudes becoming more reflective and holistic, focusing on collective rather than individual well-being. Ahead of this curve, Botho Treats treats holistic well-being as a critical component of modern living. This organisation is led by Mindfulness Coach and Practitioner, Mother K. Masire who sees great value in providing holistic wellness solutions. This means that the solutions don’t focus on one component of well-being but look to cover the mind, body, and soul.

Mother K Masire on the journey to mindfulness practice

Mother K. Masire is the Founder of Botho Treats, an organisation wholly committed to using mindfulness practice to uplift and empower communities in an especially crisis-filled world. Prior to joining the wellness practice, she had a corporate career in both executive and non-executive roles, mainly in Personnel Development and Media Advisory (specialising in Marketing & Advertising). She has also worked for different media mediums; two commercial radio stations and a television production consultancy company, a publishing company that produced weekly newspapers lifestyle magazines, and a personnel consultancy organisation.

Throughout her work in these different roles, one thing would always stand out with the people she interacted with, and that was that most people don’t take enough time to center themselves and become more aware of how they go about life. Botho Treats was then birthed out of wanting to guide individuals to be more mindful.

Mindfulness at the Core

At its core, the organisation operates using mindfulness-based approaches such as tapping into the power of breathing better, gaining more awareness of one’s surroundings, and journaling to mention a few.

“Our services use mindfulness-based approaches to empower our clients to make better well-being deci-


sions, apply them to their everyday lives and cultivate more alignment, and well-being. We provide various mindfulness-based programs for corporates, institutions, groups, and individuals,” says Masire.

“Botho Treats appreciates and acknowledges the unique design and fingerprint of each individual or organisation and thus the custom design of our each service offering. The programs that clients can benefit from include, retreats, mindfulness programs and engagements, corporate wellbeing activities, zen lounges, team building as well as mental wellbeing awareness talks. While these programs are in place at the moment, the organisation continues to use feedback from clients to find new ways to come up with impactful solutions.

Mindfulness as a Driver for Social Impact with the youth Holistic wellness organisations are typically social-good drivers and in Botswana, Botho Treats has committed time to young people. Botho Treats provides mentorship programs and believes that since the state of mind influences one's life it would be beneficial to share skills that will help young people navigate life grounded.

Since launching Botho Treats, Masire has worked with transitional youth and creatives, asserting, “I have a soft spot for the two demographics as I, in my youth struggled with finding my footing in adulthood and wished that there was someone older (not family), loving and easygoing to guide me through this transition from being a child to being an adult.”

“It was a very confusing time; trying to figure myself out while society had an expectation of me which wasn’t always easy to decipher. From this experience, I then decided to be that person I needed when I was transitioning. I focus on the creatives because I feel they are misunderstood and this can make navigating life while pursuing their talents very challenging,” Masire adds.

To further increase the impact on our communities, especially those who would benefit the most, Botho Treats hosts Retreats throughout the year being mindful of other activities happening in the country. For instance, knowing how strenuous a period year-end is, the organisation normally hosts the Pause & Breathe Retreat aimed at helping individuals re-center themselves during the rush of the period’s activities.

Masire adds, “We also plan on hosting our first Silent Retreat in September 2023. This is a way of helping individuals find peace in being left alone with their thoughts – to a great level silence is a great starting point of more awareness which trickles down to leading a more mindful life.”

Furthermore Botho Treats is working on a prod-


uct that medical insurances and corporates can utilise to support their members and employees. The product's aim is to provide emotional and mental reprieve, especially in the work context. According to a World Health Organization report, half of the global workforce works in the informal economy, which lacks regulatory protection for health and safety. These workers usually work in hazardous conditions, work long hours, have little or no access to social or financial protections, and face discrimination, all of which can have a negative impact on their mental health. Botho Treats, therefore, approached this area with a sense of urgency.

From the Grassroots…

Using the Founder's “One Child One Tree” Movement to empower children with life skills is another important complement of Botho Treats. The One Child One Tree Movement is an initiative aimed at encouraging tree planting and using lessons from trees to teach children life skills. The trees are sourced through donations. This movement also ignites the idea and habit of nurturing living things in our surroundings. Understanding how life works from an early age, being equipped with traits of “Botho” which means that one navigates life with humility and respect for fellow human beings. This is a great way to set children off well into the rest of their lives and Botho Treats prides itself in this imitative.

Cultivating Mindfulness into the Future

As a way of ensuring long-lasting impact, Botho Treats is committed to being consistent in curating the quarterly Soul Catch-up Day Retreat. The retreat is aimed at holding space for those whose souls feel weary, and exhausted and need time to reconnect with themselves. “It's time to listen to our souls and pay attention to emotions under the surface and remember what really matters,” stresses Masire.

“Botho Treats’ intention is to have organic growth and our desire is to fulfill our mission of assisting individuals to live happy, healthy, and meaningful lives. Over and above this, we also intend on being more inclusive by developing an array of facilities and services such as a spa, an emotional and mental well-being center, a botanical garden, a creativity hub, yoga, dance & meditation outdoor studio, sound healing center and a variety of educational resources that will be offered including web-based instruction books, seminars, and retreats. The longterm goal is that Botho Treats will become a center of holistic healing, education, creativity, spiritual, and recreational activity,” says Masire.


Botswana ESG and Sustainable Finance Forum

2023 To Unpack Investment Strategies For Sustainable Value Creation


Climate change issues have become part of the agenda within the context of investors, governments, and business in Africa. For a very long time, until only about a few years back, these conversations had been seen as "nice-tohaves" but not necessarily something that needed to top the agenda across various institutions and organisations. The dialogue is now rapidly changing, and the world is experiencing an inevitable Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) paradigm shift as external pressure for businesses and governments to operate sustainably mounts.

Government officials, institutional investors, corporate executives, environment and sustainability professionals, fund & asset managers, and many other key stakeholders in the investment and green finance professionals, will convene at Avani Gaborone Resort & Casino, on the 12th and 13th of April 2023, for the Inaugural Botswana ESG and Sustainable Finance Forum 2023. The Forum will be under the theme, "Green-Growth Paradigm for Botswana Investment Strategies for Sustainable Value Creation", and the first-of-its-kind gathering in Botswana, will be hosted by the Botswana office of the MNCapital Group.

MNCapital Group is a South Africa-headquartered, Africa-focused institutional investment communications and research firm that has become synonymous with hosting high-end conferences and trainings that are specifically curated to highlight investment opportunities within the African continent and assist institutional funds to function optimally through industry-focused training programmes. This Group have now invested in ESG in Botswana, a country-specific programme primarily developed for institutional investors and big business to come together and engage in implementable conversations that will lead to the formulation of strategies that will see the country thrive economically whilst adopting non-financial factors like the planet and people into their investment decisions.

The ESG in Africa Forum Journey

On the 5th of August 2011, MNCapital hosted the first-ever ESG Conference in Africa, under the theme, "Africa ESG Integration Forum". The Forum was held at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in Sandton, South Africa. The conference which focused on "Integrating ESG Investment Strategies in Portfolio Management. An Africa Perspective," was designed to "present an opportunity for Africa's finance and investment community to

meet, share, network, and discuss ESG issues in the African context.

The keynote speaker at this inaugural ESG conference in Africa, John Oliphant, then Head of Investments and Actuarial at the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) - South Africa, said,

The Group Chief Executive Officer of the MNCapital Group, Michael Ndinisa, said, "I am impressed by the overwhelming response and support we have received for this Forum. It's now evident that the industry is ready to implement this longterm, forward-looking investment strategy." At the time, the ESG conversations were around capital markets and were not a huge concern, if any at all, for the corporate executives.

The question that ESG has been embedded into the investment decision processes and corporate strategy is, can the corporate sector turn ESG into an asset? MNCapital believes that ESG is no longer just a consideration, but rather a business imperative, and it should play an integral part in both the corporate strategy as well as the institutional investment decision making. Furthermore, ESG being a business imperative, should be viewed as a new way of doing business, meaning that businesses should continue making profits, and investors should continue getting healthy returns on their investments, only that this time around, there is a deliberate focus on the social impact and sustainability.

Commenting on the evolution of the ESG Conversations in Africa, as championed by the MNCapital Group, the General Manager of MNCapital Botswana Rre Gobopaone Gasietsiwe said, "Since 2011, the Africa ESG Forum has evolved, and with be on its 9th installment in Cape Town, following the success of our post-Covid-19 pandemic offering of the same event in Mauritius last year (2022), and due to the growing need for stakeholder engagements around the ESG issues, MNCapital Group has decided to intensify its efforts of creating such platforms for these critical conversations, and hence instead of having just one ESG conference that is open to the entire continent, we bring it down to the specific requirements of selected countries. And that is exactly how the Botswana ESG and Sustainable Forum has been born, and so far, the responses we are getting from the stakeholders is proof of the importance of this critical project of healing our planet, taking care of our community members, all this while we continue to build our economy."

"As long-term investors and fiduciaries, institutional investors have the responsibility to ensure that we invest in a way that promotes long-term sustainability."

ESG Integration is Fast Becoming Mission-Critical

The year 2020, without a doubt, changed life as we know it and ushered the world into what we have come to know as "the new normal", a world where governments, investment professionals, the corporate world, members of the communities, are in their respective ways, navigating through this bold, new world, and trying to make the best out of it.

The undeniable fact about the post-pandemic world is that environmental and social responsibility conversations have become topical. Public, private and civil sectors have come under immense pressure to take centre-stage in protecting the environment, as well as improving the quality of life for the members of their immediate communities, alongside realising their financial goals. These three points of focus now must go together.

Why Should the Corporate Sector Integrate ESG Factors?

The corporate world is at the brink of a major turning point as corporate sustainability, championed by the ESG frameworks, is fast becoming a critical business imperative. The management teams across various industries will continue to find themselves in a position where they are compelled by investors, shareholders, customers, and other stakeholders to strike a balance between financial and non-financial factors, and then marry these into their companies' strategic corporate objectives. Because of this external pressure, some corporate executives might choose to dismiss the whole ESG agenda as merely an item on the list that they need to check off for the sake of appearing to be ESG compliant. This kind of approach would be amiss because the integration of ESG into the core values and principles of any business will avail value-creation opportunities.

ESG Integration into the Institutional Investor Decision-Making

The Covid-19 wave hit while the world, particularly the emerging markets were making headway with the tech-oriented fourth industrial revolution (4IR), with the talks of digitisation of most of the things that were previously done manually, like for example, introducing paperless banking technologies within banking and payments space, the rise of digital music and on-demand "entertainment"; paperless offices, where one could sign-off a document digitally and send it back to the relevant recipient without having to print it out, physically sign it, scan it and send back via email or fax machines. This was all done with the key benefits being, 'efficiency' and 'convenience'. The pandemic, as it forced people to find "socially-safe" ways of going about their day-to-day businesses and activities, brought to the fore ESG issues, and it has since become pivotal for governments, institutional

investors and the corporate sector alike, to place a special focus on the triple bottom-line (3BL), "Planet, People, and Profits".

This might sound like an easy approach simply place as much focus and resources on environmental and social issues as you do on Return on Investment (RoI), however, due to various factors involved in the process of making ESG a key investment decision-making criterion, there is a need for continued intensive trainings and stakeholder engagements as regulations evolve.

The Inaugural Botswana ESG and Sustainable Finance Forum 2023

The Inaugural Botswana ESG and Sustainable Finance Forum 2023 is designed as a meeting platform for the entire institutional and ESG ecosystem where participants will engage on best practices on ESG and formulate implementable strategies with the goal of aligning, planet, people and profits. MNCapital Group has invited participants form two key groups, namely key players and stakeholders of Banking and Finance as well as The Corporate Sector. Some highlighted key speakers to include, Adrian Bertrand, Co-Founder and Practice Head of Six Capitals ESG Advisory, Andrey Bogdanov, Chief Executive Officer of Insight Risk, Gomolemo Lolo Madikgetla, Founder of Ungwa Africa, Thapelo Tsheole, Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Stock Exchange and many more.

This conference promises to unlock co-creation of solutionist collaboration between players in the private, public and civil sectors. As the African proverb goes, “If one wants to go fast, go alone and if one wants to go farther then go with others” MNCapital through its programmes continue to invest in the creation of strong mechanisms in the ESG space. Through meaningful dialogue and dissection of ESG matters by different key players, this event could inspire and influence a more purposeful approach to the implementation of sustainable value creation.


Techstars Global Network: Unleashing Start-up Potential in Botswana

Entrepreneurs play an invaluable role in the economic activities of any country as they function as part of its growth. They stimulate new employment opportunities by developing new products and services, resulting in an acceleration of economic development as well as addressing some of society’s overlooked issues. The next generation of problem solvers are the people who look at problems differently from big corporations, gov-

ernments, and civil society, engaging in finding solutions that immediately affect them and their communities. These people can be found in any part of the world, but certain restrictions will often impede their progress.

In the start-up space one network that is fast establishing its global footprint is Techstars. Techstars, based in Boulder, Calorado in the United States of America is the gold standard for startup accelerators. They have claimed fame through massive,


interconnected network of over 3,000 successful entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and corporate partners is at the heart of our mission to help the most promising startups do faster. Techstars is focused on supporting early-stage entrepreneurs in developing their ideas into world-changing businesses. Entrepreneurs hold the keys to the greatest challenges of our time, from startup founders to corporate employees to visionary dreamers. They see possibilities. They take chances. They also pave the way for entire industries. Techstars is igniting the global information economy.

Techstars is expanding its reach into the Sub-Saharan region through the inaugural Techstars Startup Weekend in Gaborone. Providing opportunities in underserved communities. Advancing innovative teams and ideas, regardless of origin, they work to create positive social and economic change by assisting entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey, transforming the world by making innovation accessible to anyone, anywhere. The first engagement in the region was held in January from the 26th to the 28th. To unpack the purpose of this initiative, TRC Magazine had a discussion with the Community Lead, Udo Georgewill.

TRC: Kindly give us a brief background of the Techstars Global movement.

UG: The Techstars Global Network assists entrepreneurs in their endeavors. Techstars was founded in

2006 with three simple ideas: entrepreneurs create a better future for all, collaboration drives innovation, and great ideas can come from anywhere. The organisation is now on a mission to enable everyone on the planet to contribute to and benefit from entrepreneurial success. In addition to running accelerator programs and venture capital funds, Techstars helps build thriving startup communities by connecting startups, investors, corporations, and local communities. Techstars has invested in over 2,200 companies, with a total market capitalisation of more than $30 billion.

In Botswana, Techstars hosted its inaugural Techstars Startup Weekend in January. This event leveraged local networks, corporations, and volunteers to set up an event that aims to address one of the nation’s biggest challenges, youth unemployment. Techstars Startup Weekend Gaborone ran as an exciting and immersive introduction to the startup world and a platform for different stakeholders to learn from each other how to build sustainable startups and indeed, an equitable and robust ecosystem. Over the course of three action-packed days, aspiring entrepreneurs met the best mentors, investors, co-founders, and sponsors, while getting more done faster – and even starting some business ventures.

TRC: With the annual Techstars Startup Weekend Gaborone now in place, what do you believe are the biggest gains to the local entrepreneurial com-


munity in Botswana?

UG: Techstars as a global initiative has been run across various cities including Jaipur, Paris, Lagos, Berlin, Nairobi, Lagos and São Luìs. We leverage the insights from other markets to develop a one-of-a-kind experience. We have created this platform for passionate people who want to connect and create something new. Techstars is known for its rich and diverse talent pool. There is no better place to make new friends, coworkers, mentors, co-founders, or investors. The community honours the very nature of our generation – which thrives on finding meaning in the work they do and building businesses that solve key challenges and provide solutions that has an impact for years to come.

Techstars Startup Weekend is the world's largest grassroots entrepreneurship program. It was founded in 2009 and now has over 500,000 participants, 7000 events in more than 160 countries, and 1800 cities. As part of crafting a unique experience, we will combine both local and international players in the space to put together an exciting itinerary furnished with the best minds. Aspiring entrepreneurs will learn from those who have done it and know precisely what it takes to innovate, disrupt, and launch a company. The 54 hours will be a hands-on learning experience guided by experienced hands. Anyone who’s been on the entrepreneurial journey knows that feeling you're not alone can mean the world. Startup Weekend Gaborone participants have numerous opportunities to engage and connect with like-minded individuals — and to truly start something amazing.

As an organisation that encourages and supports new ideas, the event encourages people to start something great that will be of infinite value to various stakeholders. Techstars Startup Weekend Gaborone is intended to get everyone moving, thinking on their feet, and solving today's and tomorrow's problems. The local organizers will create an ideal environment for our participants to succeed and learn as much as they can in only 54 hours. Furthermore, all the new knowledge will be able to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs because of this immersive experience. Startup Weekend Gaborone delves into specific topics or skill sets as well.

TRC: Why Botswana and why now?

UG: As part of our effort to increase our global footprint, we found Botswana to be strategically positioned for Startup Weekend as data shows that in the Sub-Saharan region, Botswana is one of the fastest growing economies and we believe that empowering local entrepreneurs with the right tools will have an effective role in the National economic progress. As a developing territory, Botswana is plagued by pressing issues especially exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic such as unemployment, poverty, and economic inequalities. All these are issues that can be addressed by engaging young minds in problem-solving and using innovative thinking to future-proofing Botswana’s economic future.

TRC: What can be expected in terms of the programme for the annual event?

UG: We will have an array of intensive activities spanned over the 54-hour period. The programme is designed in a way that makes it engaging. As participants meet fellow innovators, pitch ideas, and form teams, our expert facilitators and mentors will set the tone for the rest of the days. Once the foundation has been laid, participants will gain knowledge, practice, and application of cutting-edge methodologies and presentation skills in preparation for the final pitch. The participants will be exposed to industry experts from different industries that can speak directly to participants’ challenges. On the final leg of the programme, the participants will practice their pitches and present their final work to a panel of judges drawn from our corporate and local partner networks.

TRC: Any last words?

UG: As the winners of the first cohort of budding entrepreneurs head to the International Competition for Entrepreneurs (ICE) in Jamaica later in the year, we are both thrilled and honoured to have played a part in ensuring their international exposure. We pride ourselves in honing the skills and passion of young innovators. These brilliant minds have good ideas to solve challenges in their communities and just need the support of other experienced players and we are committed to proving that in the long haul. Echoing the wise words of Peter Duiker, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Working with our network of volunteers, mentors, sponsors, speakers – and participants, we are creating Botswana’s future.

Udo Georgewill

MatchAProAdvancing Inclusive Healthcare Through Tech

In the last few years, we have seen an accelerated digital shift in healthcare delivery, thanks to a wave of technologies combined with the desire of many people around the world to help people regardless of their location. The digital connection between clinicians and patients necessitates new private-public partnerships (PPPs) to enable the technology, as well as new ideas to assist those in need. Recent times have also exposed the disparity between those who could and could not access connected care. Innovators are working hard to use technology to bridge the gap in access to many services, particularly medical care.


Tuduetso Masire, the force behind MatchAPro is contributing to the development of future healthcare solutions by drawing inspiration from a personal challenge. MatchAPro is a platform that links surgeons looking to perform pro-Bono procedures in Southern Africa with local public hospitals. Tuduetso and her network of partners wish to simply close a gap by providing a simple solution and that is accessible and user- friendly.

Tuduetso Masire grew up in Gaborone, Botswana. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and International Business from Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, United States, and recently completed her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Southern California (USC) (MSEI).

During her time at USC, she began developing MatchAPro in her venture initiation class and competed in the New Venture Seed Competition (NVSC), finishing in the top six and receiving a Bronze and Social Impact Award. Following NVSC, she was chosen as a Blackstone New Venture Fellow for the summer of 2022 via USC's Blackstone launchpad. Tuduetso advanced to the Semi-Finals of USC's Athena Woman in Entrepreneurship Competition and was competitively selected as a candidate for USC's Viterbi School of Engineering MIN Family challenge for $50,000, which is aimed at startups that are solving problems that address the UN's 17 sustainability goals for 2030 and will run until April 2023.

“MatchAPro, is an online platform that is supposed to match surgeons willing to travel to Southern Africa to do pro-Bono procedures, on patients in public hospitals in the region. The patients we refer to in this context are those in public hospitals who find themselves on the backlog list,” cites Tuduetso, when asked to shed light on how MatchAPro works

“For instance, you may find someone gets diagnosed with a condition in Princess Marina Hospital or any public hospital in the region you can think of, and they are told that they can only get the procedure they need to be done in the next year. That would be a candidate for MatchAPro. So, our patients can only be matched with a Pro through the public health system, particularly the hospitals that usually have backlogs,” she adds

MatchAPro especially focuses on people who have been diagnosed with chronic or critical conditions such that every week they wait could mean something more detrimental to their health. The functionality of the platform

is meant to be simple so that people in the health systems can easily navigate through it.

The inspiration behind the formation of MatchAPro

“What inspired me to create such a platform was having lived in the United States for so long, but also being from Botswana. I spent a lot of time at home while living abroad and I come home quite frequently. There were instances when I would be home and need medical care at home and they are just certain things that used to happen that I found quite unfortunate, like when I used to get bad cluster headaches,” recalls Tuduetso

She says she had to go to different doctors to make sure that the headaches weren't associated with any other illnesses, for example perhaps a tumor or anything that could be more serious and taking place within the brain.

“I had to go through a lot of testing and diagnostics. Local institutions wouldn’t find anything, and it would almost always happen that I get referred to neighbouring South Africa.:

It was these gaps that showed her the opportunity for creating this intervention, as she considered what the experience would be like forpeople who cannot afford to seek a second opinion or do surgery in another country.

“I started doing research on what happens in a situation where an individual doesn't have medical aid and can't cover something like an MRI in a different country or can’t pool the resources to fight off something like childhood cancer” Tuduetso shares

“Before MatchAPro was even laid out on paper, I researched on the systems in place for these types of situations. I interviewed different health professionals in the country and the majority had limited information in terms of what happens in those instances.”

Immediately she recognised a pattern that guideher to work harder on MatchAPro. Understanding that medical health professionals, especially in the United States health systems are always eager to do pro-Bono work abroad, it became a challenge-meets-solution venture and she decided to invest a lot more in learnings and understanding how everything would work on the ground.

Getting to a hospital and finding out you must wait for the next available doctor to read your results could be a thing of the past. In Botswana, there are Doctors in health institutions, but certain specialties have a shortage and that can be the difference between a person making the medical care they need or not making it. MatchAPro is essen-


tially in place to bridge that gap. This gap being closed will hopefully benefit other areas of the country’s development, such as, the economy being stable because more people are able to get medical care faster and can then get back to work and contribute to the welfare of their families.

MatchAPro’s key function

MatchAPro’s core business is to try and mitigate the imbalance that patients have of medical specialties in the country. In Botswana there are many medical professionals but a lot of the specialised ones prefer to go abroad, creating a gap in the public health system. The ones that stay in the country find themselves overwhelmed by patients needing specialised care or lagging in the latest technology because the infrastructure in the country does not quite support it. For the few specialised professionals, there is just a lot to deal with. They may not always be in a position to handle all the demands by themselves, so MatchAPro is an intervention and support – a complement to the public health system in

its current state.

“MatchAPro surgeons and doctors will not do procedures or interventions on any patient that could be done by a local provider in the public, in the public health system. Therefore, MatchApro is not here to replace what is already in place but to complement it. MatchAPro is currently in its Beta phase and a lot is being invested to tighten up internal systems. By the time we launch later in 2023 we would have had to make sure that this platform would be of benefit to the region,” says Tuduetso


Ease of access: Doctors can widen their reach and seamlessly deliver quality care to underserved patients in Southern Africa. With robust vetting and verification process, one is able to access a list of patients in need based on their location and the medical care required. If you are in the field specified you can process your application to serve communities that might otherwise be disadvantaged by under-resourced healthcare systems. Furthermore, this platform will enable easier communication with qualified and verified doctors from the United States.

Health system optimisation: Hospitals can improve their healthcare systems and provide world-class expertise for their patients. Some surgeons may travel with cutting-edge medical devices in cases where the device is; portable, unavailable in the region, and necessary to optimize procedures/results. This platform will create ease in referrals for patients seeking surgical intervention to surgeons from the United States (hopefully other regions as well once we establish vetting regulations) traveling to the region by simply adding them to our ‘patients’ portal.


Addressing a real need: MatchAPro strives to make healthcare available where it is most needed. MatchAPro's mission is to save lives by tapping into already existing match-making algorithms that are currently used on platforms such as Uber, Tinder, or Task Rabbit; just tweaked to connect traveling surgeons from the United States to underserved patients in public hospitals in Southern Africa. MatchAPro also intends to reach the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) by 2030.

MatchAPro provides a tremendous opportunity to the communities and the wider Southern Africa. It will help those who are unserved or underserved. Designing health technologies that improve healthcare access and support grander health equity goals, such as strengthening healthcare systems and achieving universal health coverage by 2030, necessitates being consciously inclusive throughout the innovation process. This means designing with a common goal in mind, and co-creating solutions that are sustainable, equitable, and scalable.

There is no such thing as a onesize-fits-all solution. Every community has its own set of factors to consider, and designing healthcare solutions varies depending on where one is and what that particular region needs. To solve complex problems and deliver more meaningful results, a truly collaborative, people-first approach is required and MatchAPro is fully committed to aligning to an inclusive, solution-focused, and people-first approach.



In a space where women are profoundly disadvantaged in the village of Chisumbanje in Chipinge South in Zimbabwe, Green Fuel has developed projects that ensure the empowerment of women and education of the girl child.

Green Fuel is a biofuel company in Zimbabwe that produces ethanol sugarcane to supply the Southern region with a clean, efficient, and renewable fuel source.

Green Fuel has a remarkable Corporate social responsibility program that is highly beneficial to the local community, aptly named “Vimbo –Hope for a Better Future.” The Vimbo projects are centred around business, sustainable farming practices, while tackling women’s critical issues of a lack of education and empowerment.


This project was the hallmark of Green Fuel’s CSR portfolio. The company developed a total of 1,600ha of Community Irrigation Schemes and Outgrower Schemes. At the start of the project, the company committed to developing 10% of all land under sugarcane in Chisumbanje for the community. Today, 1000ha of land has been developed for small scale farmers from the community and 660ha for outgrower farmers, benefiting over 2,600 families through one of the biggest communal irrigation schemes. This project has empowered women to have financial independence by enabling them to grow vegetables for subsistence and for selling. Women in agriculture including Mollen Zongond have benefitted from this product, allowing them to provide for their families and themselves.


“This project has empowered me as a wife and mother. I do not have to wait on my husband for everything, but I can now grow crops such as vegetables and tomatoes for sale and use the money I get to look after my children and any household needs."


Manna Creative Fashions is one of Green Fuel’s most successful community projects thus far. This is a sewing factory that was established in 2014 to train community members in sewing and production, as well as Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) training on how to develop and grow their

small businesses. Today MCF produces upto 5000 work suits for employees every for their biggest client, Green Fuel. MCF consists of more women than men and this project enables them to provide their families, while gaining business skills to grow their own businesses.

“Our lives have changed a lot. Before MCF, we were at home, unemployed, now we are employed earning a decent living. I have managed to build a house and I can now send my children to school and support my parents and siblings all at the same time.”

MCF now receives orders from the local schools and sports teams in the Chisumbanje area.


Green Fuel introduced Dermal Care to its CSR portfolio due to the problems that young girls in the communities were facing with lack of access to adequate sanitary ware. Based on a survey conducted in 2014, 20% of girls missed school due to menstruation and 62% missed school due to lack of adequate sanitary ware. Green Fuel introduced re-usable pads as an affordable and clean alternative for women and girls in both rural communities and urban areas where sanitary ware is not affordable. The factory is run by five members of the local community who produce reusable pads and sell them to Green Fuel, who donate to young girls at local primary and secondary schools, and the wider community. Dermal Care has grown significantly with the amount of orders increasing from big cities such as Mutare and Harare. The factory consists mostly of female workers who have found a great source of income and a sense of purpose from helping fellow women and children with reusable sanitary ware.

“I like being a part of this project. Not only because it is a source of income for me and my family, but because of the many things I have learnt along the way about women and menstruation. I have come to appreciate what women experience and now have a better understanding of their needs. I have a daughter and I am certain that I will be a better mother to her because of this. There is obviously the benefit of having acquired skill and management of small business project, which is a lot. Reusable pads are cheap and affordable”


This project started in 2018 after extensive training from Green Fuel's resident bee-keeper.


A number of bee boxes have been set up around the Estate and within the community and an apiary has been developed for the team. Green Fuel continues to assist with equipment, training and support and, as a result, the team is now harvesting organic honey on a regular and sustainable basis, which is then sold to community residents and company staff. Women are part of this projects, as they learn the art of bee-keeping and production of honey.

"All of this we learnt from the training that GreenFuel organized for us and we are forever grateful."

The development of women in the community of Chisumbanje and neighboring communitis, is at the forefront of Green Fuel’s CSR work. When women are empowered, a community thrives. Profits that are made from these projects help women to provide for their families, build homes and develop themselves.

Vimbo has many other projects such as the bursary program that covers school fees for children from the community, the netball team that harnesses the talent of young girls in the community.

And recently, Green Fuel launched a science lab at Checheche High School in December with the aim of introducing STEM subject at the school, offering a wider choice for the students at Checheche and neighboring schools in the community. All these projects are beneficial to young girls and women through education and empowerment.





Nigeria, much like many other nations, is confronted with the adverse effects of climate change. These effects are manifested in altered rainfall patterns, escalated temperatures, and heightened instances of extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts. The resultant impact extends to several areas, including agriculture, food security, and water resources, among others.

To address the challenge of climate change, Nigeria has developed a comprehensive set of goals and commitments outlined in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). These commitments include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% unconditionally and 45% conditionally by 2030. Additionally, Nigeria has implemented various policies and programs, such as the National Climate Change Policy and Response Strategy and the Renewable Energy Master Plan, to combat the effects of climate change.

Despite notable efforts, progress has faced challenges due to a lack of financial resources, ineffective institutional and regulatory frameworks, and insufficient public awareness and education.

SustyVibes is an organization dedicated to actively mitigating the impacts of climate change by engaging with communities and promoting tree planting. The Communitrees project is one of several inspiring initiatives in which SustyVibes is invest-


ed. Additionally, the Susty School initiative offers masterclasses and short sessions aimed at educating young people on practical sustainability topics.

Jennifer Uchendu,is a self-motivated changemaker whose passion for the earth and its people is deeply ingrained in her DNA. She is an accomplished Nigerian environmentalist and social entrepreneur. She established SustyVibes, a non-governmental organization in 2016.

Mrs. Uchendu has been widely recognized for her outstanding work with SustyVibes and has received numerous awards, including the 2019 African Youth Awards for Environmental Sustainability and the 2020 Goldman Sachs and Fortune Global Women Leaders Award.

The NGO's key objective is to promote sustainable living and environmental conservation by encouraging young people to take action on environmental issues and embrace sustainable lifestyles.

Since its establishment, the NGO which has its headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria has activated several engagements to “.. attract individuals who are passionate about creating sustainable lifestyles for the planet and all its inhabitants.”


Covert Sustainability: How Effective Are Sustainability Certification Entities?

It was with great shock that the world watched and followed on the recent expose by the BBC released on Sunday of 19th February 2023 entitled “Sex for Work: The True Cost of Our Tea.” In the expose, the viewers were taken through the ordeals that women go through to secure jobs in the tea plantations in Kenya, and the horrendous experience they have to endure to keep the same jobs. Specifically, the top managers and those entrusted with the governance and management of these tea estates are captured preying on women for sexual favors so that they can get jobs and better working conditions and terms. In the expose, up to 70 women claimed how they have had to endure sexual exploitation to have jobs and keep them. The women are vulnerable because they have children that need support and finding work in Kenya or anywhere else has become very hard in the current hard economic times. Ever since its release, the expose and the report has elicited debate and strong sentiments from a wide range of parties ranging from parliamentarians in the country, the office of high commissioner for United Kingdom to Kenya, civil society

groups, gender-based violence activists, law enforcers, and the general public.

The implicated tea plantations are managed and owned by British based corporation of James Finleys and Unilever, and they are the largest exporters of Kenyan tea to the European market. The tea is responsible for the popular tea brands such as Linton, the most popular in the United Kingdom and other European countries. One of the most notable aspects about the expose is that these tea brands are certified by the reputable organizations such as the Fairtrade, which is responsible for ensuring that the companies involved in production and manufacturing of popular beverages such as tea and coffee are sustainable and every part of the supply chain is compliant to the underlain sustainable standards. Fairtrade is responsible for certifying entities such as James Finleys and other entities involved in production of popular beverages like coffee. Consumers and the market have become interested in purchasing products from companies that are certified as it is believed their production processes and the entire


supply chain is ethical and up to the global sustainability standards that have been enforced by organizations such as the United Nations.

However, in watching an expose such as this, one cannot beg to question how effective and thorough are certifying bodies such as Fairtrade in their work. Are they just being used to label and boost the marketability of these products? Do they only focus on the economic pillar and the environmental pillar of sustainability at the expense of the social pillar that touches on the people and individuals involved in the production chain? Isn’t this a case of covert sustainability, which is only good in the labelling and paper work? Covert sustainability is as good as greenwashing, where emitting companies tend to invest in a single process to prove their compliance to sustainability just to cover up their destructive damage of the emissions they are releasing to the environment.

From a global corporate perspective, Fairtrade is considered to be the most recognized ethical label in the world, having being involved in certifying agriproduct companies working with over 2 million farmers from different parts of the world. As such, one would be tempted to ask what mechanisms that Fairtrade and other certifying bodies use to ensure that the casuals and the farmers working at the lowest levels have their

basic rights protected and that they are working in the best of the working conditions. It is time that the world starts closely scrutinizing the agencies involved in certifications of companies, especially when it comes to the dimensions of sustainability and sustainable development. As much as corporations tend to be biased on profits and brand equity, it is important to also ensure that the casuals that are working at the lowest levels are protected from gender-based violence, sexual harassment, and other forms of negative exploitation. It is worth noting that the implicated companies affirm to have an elaborate zero tolerance for sexual harassment, and have policies on the same. However, the same is not enforced, or there no mechanisms or channels that the victims can use to air their grievances and complaints.

In their website, Fairtrade has a section of standards on Decent Work, which affirm its objective of protecting the basic rights of all the workers, and especially ensuring that they have and are entitled to a safe working environment. The standards also indicate the objective to empower the workers so that they can negotiate the working conditions and also prohibit any form of discrimination. However, once again, how effective is the enforcement of the same, and who performs the periodic auditing to ascertain that there no unethical activities happening in any stage of the production cycle. Fairtrade has come out to condemn the sexual harassment in the report, and in their report, they recommend having institutions and policies that would ensure there are women in senior leadership positions in such entities. One may ask the question where it is a question of gender representation in the management, or it is simply a question of broken morals, or weak mechanisms to enforce the already established policies on sustainability and sexual harassment. Does having women in leadership cushion women in lower levels from sexual harassment? One may ask.

For the companies that have been implicated in the scandal, they need to move with speed to give an official statement on the matter. Although they have fired the senior management captured in the expose, there is a need to issue a comprehensive statement of how they intend to prevent the same from happening in the future. There should be active reporting channels that victims can use to reach those involved in certification, and ensure the allegations are investigated thoroughly. This will ensure that even the lowest of the casual in the workforce has a voice and a way of airing unfair treatment and working conditions.


THE ART OF A WOMAN: NAGA Naturals On Creating Sustainable Solutions Through Nature’s Beauty

As the late female stalwart Margaret Thatcher once matter-of-factly proclaimed, “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” This is a quote that can be used to promote the intentional action that women exude effortlessly, and one that can be evidenced by so many historical events that were championed and seen through to their successful end by women.

Mishingo Aron

Being multi-faceted and purposeful allows women to take what others may consider insignificant and minute in functionality, multiplying it into something useful and beneficial to so many. Whether it is creating a meal from the most minimal of ingredients or more significantly, creating a livelihood for all through one singular skill or effort, if there’s one thing a woman will do, it will be to make use of what’s before her to protect and preserve for the future. The rise of green beauty right here in beautiful Botswana, the home to an environment overflowing with useful natural resources is a prime example of this playing out.

Mishingo Aron on seizing an opportunity

In 2021, after running a beauty, cosmetic and personal care brand called NAGA Earth, a young Motswana entrepreneur named Mishingo Aron, noticed a gap and a challenge in her industry when the acquisition of raw materials and supplies became more difficult by the day. Choosing to do what women do best, creating something out of almost nothing and taking action, Aron took matters into her own hands, sliding herself into her own supply chain and started NAGA Naturals; a wholesale supply store specializing in luxurious and environmentally friendly raw products. Intention has always been a part of Aron’s entrepreneurial journey with her fast-growing NAGA empire, “Sustainability and natural products will always go hand-in-hand. This is also why we’ve made it a point to also go into making sustainable packaging. For me it was important that my customers were not only receiving a quality natural cosmetic product but one that was packaged in such a way that it didn’t run the risk of destroying the environment when disposed of,” says the 30-year-old business owner.

NAGA (meaning “the bush”) Naturals (referring to the utilization of materials sourced directly from nature) uses raw resources “from the bush” to create bio-degradable packaging which when rid of its contents, can be re-planted into the ground and grown into something else that can continue to be of use to the next person. Incorporating preservation into their packaging also affords customers longer usage of the products within the packaging. Sustainable packaging such as glass bottles instead of plastic, also ensures that the composition of NAGA’s end products, such as body butters, essential oils and carrier oils are not compromised.

Ethical sourcing key to operational success

For Aron, sustainability in business goes beyond just the product and the packaging. For a woman who realized the opportunity to play a role in more than just one aspect in her supply chain, it is no surprise that ethical sourcing is also a key element of NAGA’s operating model. Using the sourcing of Shea Butter in Ghana as an example, Aron shares that this was important for her as a business owner.

“We are currently waiting for our membership with the global Shea community where we pay fair trade for female producers in Ghana who diligently process our Shea butter. It’s important for us to be aligned with fair trade policies, which also gives our customers more comfort and pride in using our product.”

The attention to detail, the desire to ensure that all involved are paid and treated fairly and most importantly, the need to ensure

that history, culture and tradition is carried through to the end-product, are all qualities that are consistent with that of being a woman. These are also qualities Aron credits her late grandmother with instilling in her.

“I started NAGA Earth because of my late grandmother; I learnt everything I know about indigenous oils from her. I distinctly recall during my younger years when she would take me into the bush and show me different trees and the sap they produced and how she would educate me on what worked best for which part of my body. This is something that has stuck with me all these years and inspired me to start this business. My only wish is to also carry this rich history over into the next generation after me.”

Looking to the future of this eco-beauty empire has required its owner to continuously take stock of the inputs the eco-system that continues to drive and steer this unique ship possess, and more importantly, the advantage that being a woman has played in her executing her own role in Botswana’s preservation and environmental protection efforts.

Historically, specifically in Botswana, processing of morula oils from the nut and the collection of the nuts, are activities carried out by women. In Ghana, it’s well-known that the process of manufacturing shea butter for cosmetic use is also spearheaded by women in various communities. A woman will always know the importance of creating something useful out of raw materials. If not to feed and maintain her family directly and literally, it’s to create some sort of further income to do the same indirectly. Innovating in order to get things done and to take care of those around them is what women do so inherently well, and NAGA Naturals’ growing empire of sustainable cosmetic and personal care solutions, from supply to end-product is an incredible example of this.

About NAGA Naturals

NAGA Naturals is an eco-luxury wholesale supply store specializing in raw natural butters, essential/carrier oils, hydrosols, waxes, candle making supplies, soap making supplies, and preservatives. NAGA Naturals also offers candle-making classes for entrepreneurs hoping to go into the business of candles. For more information on NAGA Naturals visit @naganaturals on Instagram, Naga Naturals on Facebook or email


BrainSTREAM: Future-focused Approach to Learning

According to the World Economic Forum, children need 5 essential skills to be ready for the future as successful and well-rounded adults that can contribute positively to the world around them. These skills are problem-solving, digital skills, collaboration, global citizenship, and environmental stewardship. In the local education space, an organization called BrainSTREAM, exists to provide a solution that touches on all these critical areas of childhood development –BrainSTREAM. BrainSTREAM is a center for innovation that teaches children 21st-century skills. Through Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STREAM) education, the program integrates multiple disciplines to provide a hands-on learning experience.

This problem-solving approach fosters and supports the development of curiosity, creativity, cognitive skills, communication skills, social and emotional skills, problem-solving abilities, and time consciousness. BrainSTREAM, located in Gaborone's Extension 11, is strategically designed to provide various exciting programs and activities. They offer courses for children aged 4 to 18 that provide a solid foundation for implementing STREAM education, allowing them to become innovative and internationally competitive leaders in the next 5 years and beyond. To learn more about this future-focused educational programme, The Responsible Citizen enjoyed a discussion with BrainSTREAM’s Head of Education Mohit Lohani.

TRC: Please state your vision with BrainSTREAM – why such a programme and why now?

ML: With the speed at which technology is advancing, our education system needs to catch up quickly. It becomes difficult for individual schools to go beyond the curriculum that was designed decades ago and develop or try to teach things which are relevant now and for the future. So, to bridge

BrainSTREAM’s Head of Education Mohit Lohani.

the gap in terms of what today’s industries want, it is necessary to educate and expose children to technology and innovation that will be needed in the future at an early age.

BrainSTREAM's core mission is to help learners across Botswana achieve their innovative potential and equip them with the skills they need to be more employable and ready to meet the current labour demand. According to predictions, 80% of jobs in the future will require STREAM skills. Whether a person wants to be an astronaut, an accountant, a fashion designer, a painter, a chef, or any other profession, BrainSTREAM places an emphasis on holistic learning that is necessary for all careers.

TRC: How has the roll-out of this programme been in the Botswana educational space?

ML: Our facility is a first of its kind in this region, and every parent who’s walked into our facility understood the need for it. It has been a year since we opened our doors and so far, we’ve had exposure to more than a thousand kids. This shows that both parents and children appreciate and understand the importance of future skills our programmes can bring. Over the last few months, we have also extended our programmes to learning institutions locally to ensure inclusion and a wider reach. With an understanding that currently, our facility can only accommodate so many learners, we saw this outreach as an opportunity to


drive both awareness and encourage the adoption of STREAM education.

TRC: What is the core business of BrainSTREAM?

ML: BrainSTREAM has developed its curriculum for the ages of 4 to 18-year-olds. We cater to many schools with an offer to conduct STEM and robotics sessions. We conduct after-school classes on designing, coding, constructing, 3D printing and drones. All aspects of science, technology, robotics, engineering, arts and mathematics come together in a single class. The BrainSTREAM curriculum has been developed, using input from international best practices. These have been implemented with the top education elements from leading brands and suppliers (Apple, Lego, Stempedia, Blix, and Drone aviation) to form a programme that is exciting to our learners, beneficial to their educational development, and enthralling for teachers - all of which lead to a happy learning environment.

The curriculum is age-appropriate and ensures that each age group learns unique skills that can be used in other spheres of school life. Furthermore, our team has substantial experience supported by rigorous training and brings together expertise in education, engineering, and program design.

TRC: What are some of the activities and initiatives you have undertaken to create an impact in the lives of Batswana?

ML: We have brought in international expertise


to train and equip Batswana with the necessary skills and knowledge to be STREAM trainers. As kids are still learning the concepts of STREAM it will take time before they are able to showcase their skills. We are proud of our students and can confidently say that we have ignited the spark of Curiosity, Creativity and Problem-solving in young minds. Our parents and staff have witnessed with pride, a spark and joy, when our children create their own projects and try to solve a real-life problem at the end of our termly classes. It is a beautiful fest to experience when little hands and hearts challenge big problems with the knowledge gathered at BrainSTREAM. We have great expectations from our BrainStream students.

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

ML: This education is a necessity for each child whether they become a thinker, a leader, an innovator, a chef or an artist. In other parts of the world, STEM & robotics labs are integral to a school curriculum. We want to help private and public schools set up labs and train the teachers to impart 21st-century skills to all the students in every school. We have already made headway with reaching out to some of the schools to gauge their need in terms of the implementation of STREAM into their curricula.

For us, we invest a lot in showing different


players in the education space the value of STREAM education. STREAM education ties learning to practical application. Rather than treating robotics, engineering, the arts, and mathematics as separate subjects, stream education treats them as a cross-disciplinary method of problem-solving. Technology is emphasized in Stream Education, and subjects are integrated in ways that link various academic fields and make connections between them. Children can learn from their mistakes and correct them

using what they've learned and experienced. It encourages kids to ask "Why?" and goes beyond simple test results in terms of developing high-level thinking skills. STREAM skills are crucial in the rapidly evolving world of innovations and innovators.

TRC: What impact has BrainSTREAM noted since its roll-out?

ML: The inception of BrainSTREAM was inspired by a big need for STREAM education in Botswana. While many children are exposed to a lot of techs, a lot of people weren’t aware of Stem, steam, or stream education, especially for early education. It was believed that programming and robotics were for older children, mainly at the tertiary education level. Parents are slowly becoming aware of STREAM education since BrainStream was established in 2022. Parents of especially academically challenged kids or kids who simply aren’t fond of the schooling system have found that their kids have potential and abilities in a different kind of education and are finding ways to unleash their creativity and capabilities.

By virtue of their exposure since early ages, children of today naturally gravitate towards playing with gadgets. That innate curiosity about how things like that operate is sparked very early in their lives. It is unfortunate that some parents have to suppress their curiosity with the tightly structured curriculum that does not allow them to ask questions and be creative. To make our Batswana children future leaders and innovators in the world, we have to take initiative to let their creativity flow and expose them to technology with the right amount of fun. We believe that by equipping these young minds with the right tools for the future they will ultimately contribute positively to the world around them. The learning approach that allows learners to be proactive in seeking solutions means that they will always know how to navigate even the most intricate challenges. This is why BrainSTREAM exists essentially.


Breaking down Barriers: How Beyond the Classroom Foundation is changing the Face of Education

Malcolm X famously stated, "Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today." This statement emphasizes the importance of education for tomorrow’s leaders and underscores the need for due attention to this sector. It is no exaggeration to say by doing so; a parent is making a substantial contribution to the wellbeing of society as a whole. It is, by extension, an investment in the future of the world too.

What then happens when for example, the burst of population outweighs the government's efforts or the budget allocated is insufficient and cannot match the needs in this sector, and families are just unable to, due to lack of resources, send their wards to school?

A large number of kids, and in the case of Nigeria, according to UNICEF's report in May 2022, 18.5 million are out of school children, dependent on the benevolence of corporate organizations and the goodwill of individuals. One of such NGOs is Beyond the Classroom Foundation, a volunteer-driven non-profit committed to eliminating the bare minimum obstacles that prevent children in underserved communities from accessing, completing, and thriving in their education..

This non-profit amongst many things, offers support to single mothers, widows, vulnerable families, and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The Responsible Citizen Magazine caught up with Raquel Daniels, who is the Founder, to get some insight on some of the work they have done since this Abuja-based non-profit was founded in 2011.

1. How does Beyond the Classroom Foundation select the children and families they support, are there specific criteria or eligibility requirements?

Yes, Beyond the Classroom Foundation has specific criteria, or you could call it eligibility requirements for selecting the children and families we support. As an organization, we prioritize children and families who are vulnerable or at risk, such as those living in extreme poverty, experiencing homelessness, or being

affected by natural disasters or conflicts such as the Boko Haram insurgency. Looking at these criteria, you will see that these children and families fall below a certain income level. They are people who do not have access to basic needs such as food, shelter, and health care.

We also consider the age of the children. Our back-toschool program is focused on supporting children who are under the age of 16 and in primary school, especially those who are not enrolled in school or who are at risk of dropping out. For our scholarship scheme, we have a referral


system in place where our volunteers, community leaders, or other organizations refer eligible children and families to us. Overall, we prioritize children and families living in specific geographic locations that are underserved or difficult to reach.

2. Your response implies that your focus is solely primary school kids, yes?

Yes, as I just mentioned, our back-to-school program is focused on supporting children who are under the age of 16 and in primary school, especially those who are not enrolled in school or who are at risk of dropping out. However, we have other programs that are targeted at adolescent boys and girls in Junior secondary schools.

3. What would you consider the impact of the organization's work so far, any success story you wish to share?

We have been in existence for over 12 years and in that timeframe, we have worked with children in different states in Nigeria through several projects that have significantly improved the lives of children in the country, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. For example, we have implemented programs focused on education, menstrual health, child safety, and hygiene. Through these programs, we have increased school enrollment and completion rates, and provided children with access to essential services and opportunities for children who have no access to them.

Through the Back to School Program, we have supported over 50,000 children in government schools with educational materials, and free storybooks and currently have over 150 children in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Abuja, enrolled in school. Our menstrual hygiene program for adolescent girls has impacted over 20,000 girls.

One success story is the story of Aminu, a 7-year-old boy who was born in the IDP camp in Abuja. His parents could not afford to send him to school, and even though the government school close to them is tuition-free, they didn’t have the funds to pay for other

supplies and uniforms that Aminu needed to start school.

Through Beyond the Classroom Foundation, Aminu was enrolled in our program and resumed his studies at Karonmajigi Primary School in Abuja. He is one of the over 150 children currently enrolled in our Back to School program. This is just one example of how the foundation has made a significant difference in the lives of the children we serve through education.

4. How does the organization ensure the sustainability of its programs? Are there plans in place to expand and reach more underserved communities in the future?

That’s a two-in-one question, so I will start with the first. For us at Beyond the Classroom Foundation, ensuring the sustainability of our programs is a critical aspect of the work we do and to ensure the long-term success of these programs, we currently employ a few strategies. First of which is focusing on local ownership and participation of the parents. When we design a project, we don’t do that in isolation, we first build the capacity of local communities to take ownership of and participate in the programs. We believe that by engaging community members in program design, implementation, and monitoring, it ensures that programs are tailored to the specific needs and contexts of the communities we serve. This has significantly increased the likelihood of our program's sustainability because of the community ownership and support.

Another strategy is to align our work with a social enterprise that supports our work financially and works hand in hand with us to run our projects. Because a social enterprise like Bambini Africa Edutainment can sell products and generate income, which we are unable to as a charity, we leverage on that alignment for support of free books and donations from book sales to keep our programs running.

Finally, we have developed a fundraising strategy that allows monthly donations from our volunteers and supporters. This strategy ensures that their programs are adequately resourced over the long term with monthly donations, so even if we do not fundraise,


we have donations from pledges coming in every month. By implementing these few strategies, we have ensured the sustainability of our programs and continued to make a positive impact in the lives of children and communities over the long term.

To your second question; yes, we have the plan to expand but our focus is more on deepening our impact than spreading into new schools.

5. Can you describe some of the challenges the foundation has faced in carrying out its work? How does the organization address these challenges? Working in the development space can be incredibly rewarding, but it is not without its challenges. As an organization, we face several challenges daily on this job. These challenges are not unique to us but are common to many who work in this field. One of the biggest challenges we face is securing funding. Like many other non-profits, we rely on grants, donations, and other forms of financial support to carry out our work, and securing these funds can be a difficult and time-consuming process. From writing compelling grant proposals and navigating complex funding landscapes to building relationships with donors and convincing them of our organization’s worth, securing funding is a crucial and often challenging part of our work.

Another challenge we face is how to measure and communicate our impact to donors, stakeholders, and the public. This can be particularly challenging because the impact of some of our projects is not immediately apparent, and for some, the results may take time to materialize. As the lead person in the organization, I also face challenges in attracting and retaining talented and dedicated staff. Due to limited resources, we are often not able to offer the same level of compensation and benefits as for-profit organizations or even larger non-profits. This has made it difficult to attract and retain top-quality staff, who may be more attracted to the higher salaries and better benefits offered by other organizations.

Despite these challenges, there is also great fulfilment in working in the non-profit space. When you see the impact, your work is having on the world, when you build relationships with those you serve, and when you feel the power of collective action, it all becomes worth it.

6. How can individuals and organizations support Beyond the Classroom Foundation and its mission? Are there specific ways people can get involved or donate to the cause?

Individuals and organizations can support us by making financial donations to support any of our programs. The donations can be made online through our website www. or through funding a campaign by sending an email to

Another way to support us is through volunteering. This involves participating in upcoming events, providing expertise or technical support, or working on a specific project or program with us and raising awareness about our mission and programs online. This is very important in this social media era as sharing information about us on social media, or joining a campaign to raise awareness about one of our causes can help us attract more donors.

We also accept donations of goods or services, such as office equipment, educational materials, or legal or accounting services. I like to say, “If you don’t have money or time, you can donate your goods or services to us.” Overall, there are several ways people can support the work we do in Nigeria.

In closing, Beyond the Classroom Foundation is helping to break down barriers in education and providing more opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to succeed. Through their scholarships, mentorship programs and other initiatives, Beyond the Classroom Foundation is helping to level the playing field for students who may not otherwise have access to the resources and support they need to reach their full potential. The Foundation is helping to create a brighter future for all students.


The South African Car Industry Should Be At The Forefront Of THE ENERGY CRISIS

Frustration, disappointment, incompetency, and lack of accountable and efficient leadership, are some of the thoughts that come to my mind whenever the issue of load-shedding in South Africa is brought up. But beyond intense emotions is the reality of how crippling and devastating the energy crisis has been to the country’s economy. Looking to the government and having a singular approach to this problem would be a huge blunder. I say involve different stakeholders and industries in the formulation of a solution and one of those being the South African automotive industry.

According to Naamsa (National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa), the automotive industry is one of the country’s largest economic sectors, contributing 4.3% to the GDP. The January 2023 new passenger car market alone is reporting an increase of 2.9% gains as compared to the cars sold in January 2022 thus, with the increasing economic volatility and the high unemployment rates, South Africa cannot afford to lose this industry.

“Load-shedding is the biggest inhibitor to drive the industry’s localisation ambitions, create sustainable jobs

within the auto sector and to further attract investment opportunities into the country to grow the South African economy”, says Mikel Mabasa, Naamsa CEO.


South Africa is amongst the top 20 largest vehicle markets in the world with 0.4 million passenger car sales per year. According to Statista, in 2021 the transport, communication and storage sector generated an added value of 333.8 billion rands ($19.3 Billion) to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the transportation sector after the energy sector is the second highest contributor to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Transport emitted 61976 ktCO2 in 2013 and accounts for about 13% of total emissions, which can be attributed to the fact that South Africa heavily relies and depends on fossil fuels. The energy sector, due to its reliance on coal is responsible for around 66% of all emissions.

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) reported the average CO2 emissions of new pas-


senger cars in South Africa, tested under the NEDC test cycle, to be 148 gCO2/km in 2015. If we are looking at carbon emissions through the comparison of fuel types and their carbon imprint, research shows that diesel passenger vehicles emit about 14.4% more CO2 per km than the average gasoline vehicle. This is because of the much wider use of diesel engines in SUVs, which are on average the heaviest and highest-rated power vehicles in the fleet.

Comparing the South African vehicle market to the international one, the ICCT has found that the European models emit less CO2 than the South African models. By contrast, South African models are lighter on average than European ones, except for Toyota, which is significantly heavier. The best performer in SA, Renault, is 12% lighter but emits 15% more CO2 than their European average models. South African market leader VW presents similar behaviour, being 13% lighter but emitting 14% more CO2 on average than the European models


The automotive industry in South Africa has the potential to be a pioneer of alternative energies and sustainability for the whole world. This can be possible by investing in a decarbonised society, reducing the carbon footprint and emissions through infrastructure, design, development and manufacturing. The industry should work towards abandoning the use of fossil fuels in every component of it. South Africans are ready to embrace new energy vehicles so much so that Naamsa reported a 245.1% increase in the demand for new energy (electric, plug-in hybrid and traditional hybrid) vehicles in the first nine months of 2022.

With the reputation of producing the least efficient cars and being the second largest manufacturer in the country, corporations like the Toyota Group are working in collaboration with various partners, using the technologies and knowhow it has cultivated through its business activities, continue to advance ventures that are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The company is adamant about investing in hybrid technology and furthering research on alternative options like hydrogen energy. Furthermore, Toyota SA says its 2022 product rollout strategy stipulates that by 2025 there should be at least 20% of new energy vehicle unit sales.

It would be incorrect and quite egotistical of me to claim to be bringing a new solution to the energy crisis and pretend like the South African government hasn’t already taken steps to incentivize consumers to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles. The government has implemented vehicle fuel economy label programs and vehicle taxation policies that are based on vehicle CO2 emissions. However, policies, tax and incentives are simply not enough, and in my opinion, the next logical step would be to adopt policies that incentivize manufacturers to offer to the SA market the most fuel-efficient vehicles and enforce a new energy 360 strategy approach to the entire process of vehicle manufacturing. There needs to be investment from both the private and public sectors generated to support new energy research and erect world-class facilities to curb the energy crisis and expand the green automotive agenda.

Where others see a crisis plaguing our great nation, I see a way to carve a whole new path through the resources and great economic contributors we already possess. I see the potential for a brand-new way of manufacturing and designing automobiles that will challenge the whole world, reimagining transportation, and energy use, catapulting us into a new era of technological advancement.




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