The US Embassy has sponsored two Botswana entrepreneurs to attend the 7th annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) taking place in Silicon Valley, California this week (June 22-24, 2016). The African Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) Botswana President Chigedzi Chinyepi and Deaftronics Operations Manager Tendekayi Katsiga will join more than 700 entrepreneurs in the United States for the GES Summit. The agenda will include panels, workshops, and opportunities for mentoring and networking. As AWEP Botswana President, Chinyepi leads a trade and investment initiative. AWEP was launched by the US Department of State in 2010 and provides professional networking, business development, and trade capacity building opportunities for networks of female entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa, including Botswana. Chinyepi also runs Tchina Nkando Crafts. The company employs a group of women weavers from the Okavango Delta. The uniqueness of these artisans’ designs positions the company to target the export market, especially under the U.S. government’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
“I am looking at empowering women in the Okavango Delta area who weave our baskets, who have no access to markets, and the GES Summit is a great platform. They produce the baskets and we market them so that they can improve their livelihoods and send their children to school,” Chinyepi says. Tendekayi Katsiga similarly looks forward to meeting potential investors at the GES. Deaftronics won the Most Potential for Societal Award at the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST Tech-I) Summit in Kenya in 2015. Deaftronics assembles and provides solar rechargeable hearing aids and other support services. Deaftronics is owned and run by Batswana hearing impaired individuals, who are also internationally certified in micro soldering techniques used in the aviation industry.
Katsiga says Deaftronics has endeavored to develop its business network and improve its positioning to become a specialist center for hearing aids in Africa. “It has so far provided training and empowerment to different centers including the Institute for the Deaf in Jordan, the National Institute for the Deaf in Cape Town, South Africa and Solar Ear in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Deaftronics is a client of First Steps Venture Center (FSVC), a technology entrepreneurship development program within Botswana’s Innovation Hub, established to support entrepreneurship and innovation through technology transfer.” Katsiga says FSVC identifies, develops and nurtures viable technology-oriented start-up businesses with the potential to grow locally and into international markets. The strategic location of this year’s GES Summit highlights the important role entrepreneurship plays in the U.S. economy, and also provides a unique platform to connect global entrepreneurs with prominent investors and mentors. GES 2016 will showcase the U.S. government’s commitment to the promotion of entrepreneurship, shine a spotlight on entrepreneurs from around the globe, expand access to funders and mentors, facilitate private sector engagement with other regions of the world, and support economic growth and development.