It was great pomp in Shakawe on Friday last week as residents, district and community leadership joined the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) for the official opening of its office in the village.
The excitement expressed by the residents and their leaders who had the opportunity to speak, was audible enough to say the development was long overdue and that it should truly benefit them people and the sub district as envisaged.
Previously, those interested in the services of CEDA had to travel all the way to Maun, where there existed the only CEDA office in the entire Ngamiland district for assistance.
While the Okavango sub district is one of the richest in terms of natural resources and opportunities that arise, it has remained one of the poorest regions in the country.
Hopes are now high that with CEDA office in Shakawe, residents will submit their business ideas for funding, and establish their business that would grow the economic profile of the region, and also play a part in reducing the problem of youth unemployment.
Shakawe tribal leader, Kgosi Mutemo Mbambo was not one to hide his excitement at the event when welcoming guests. The flamboyant tribal leader portrayed Okavango as a beautiful area that even the biblical earthly creation could possibly have begun there.
Unfortunately, he said this was in contrast with the economic well-being of the area, – where there was so much yet too little for his people. People were unemployed, they are not benefitting from the available resources because they lack support to establish themselves, though they have the ideas to emancipate themselves.
Mbambo revealed that it used to be a far-fetched thought that a CEDA office could operate in Shakawe and cater for communities all the way to the eastern panhandle. He reiterated accessing the Maun CEDA office had always been very difficult due to the costs incurred on travel.
But again, when the figures were revealed indicating the amount of money spent by CEDA in funding to beneficiaries in both Ngamiland district and Okavango sub district, Kgosi Mbambo was immediately vindicated that access to CEDA services had been a challenge. It was revealed that CEDA has to date funded business in Okavango to only P11 million.
CEDA CEO, Thabo Thamane has emphasized that his organisation continues to press ahead with strategies of expansion and presences to reach areas that otherwise had difficulties accessing their services. This he said would not only be done using physical offices, but through the use of other mediums like technology and mobile offices.
For entrepreneurship minister Karabo Gare, allowing Batswana to play a bigger role in the economy of the country can be realised by bringing the services closer to them. He said CEDA was on the right direction to ensure government’s objective to empower citizens economically is achieved.
Gare urged Okavango residents to make use of the services provided by the office by ensuring that business ideas they may have are translated into sound business plans that indicate viability. It is only through such business plans that they can be funded and venture into business that would benefit the district and also reduce youth unemployment.
The opening of a CEDA branch in Shakawe could not have come at a better time, as it comes hot on the heels of the opening of Shakawe River Bridge, connecting the eastern panhandle to the rest of the country. This has greatly improved ease of movement of goods and services, thereby improve business prospects in the area.