At 26, Lesego Barona Otlhabanye is very much focused on seeing change not only for Batswana youth but for youth all over the world and especially in Africa. This has seen her getting involved in many initiatives and programmes that influences, impacts and changes lives. She studied International Business Management at Asia Pacific University in Malaysia. She was a very competitive debater and an adjudicator – a leeway into being a social change and development activist
Otlhabanye is the founder of Rising Tswana – a Christian platform for creative and is the outgoing chairperson of Global Shapers Gaborone Hub. She is also the co-author of Young Conversations book. She is currently employed at the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) as a Micro-Finance Officer assisting micro businesses and entrepreneurs with funding and capacity building. She is currently in New York, USA as an Atlas Corps Fellow working in New York at Youth Inc – a not for profit organisation. The Atlas Corp fellowship seeks to promote innovation, develop leaders, and strengthen the organisations that they serve in. After completing her degree, Otlhabanye felt an urgent need to be part of the solution towards improving access to opportunities and country development. “Whilst my intentions where noble, I was struck with a lot of opposition which came in the form of unemployment, lack of access to growth and outright rejection in many of the things I would have liked to do. I also had an interest in people's stories especially Africans; I wanted to consume more content from the continent and encourage a culture of writing,” she said.
Otlhabanye believes that serving people without personal benefit allows her to do projects that are not just for her professional development but serve a higher purpose. For a while in she was uninspired by the way her life was going. “I started to blog while I was still an intern and it changed my whole experience of thinking,” she said. As a global shaper – an initiative of the World Economic Forum – Otlhabanye runs various socio economic based projects with their most recent having been the Leaders Kgotla where they brought together different youth led civil society organisations to help improve their impact. They are also currently working on building a website and database for organisations. She said after the launch of “Young Conversations” – there has been a positive reception to the book. They want to reach more people especially millennials as the subject matter is especially relevant to them.
She prioritises her work. “I think it's important to decide what takes priority at any given time; so establishing that is necessary so that attention can be given to each and every project,” she emphasised. She has always had a passion for creating platforms for dialogue and exchange and the African Narrative. Her desire is to host dialogues on various subjects of interest and push the agenda for African literature. She would like to facilitate funding and amplifying impact for social enterprises in the country. Despite all her achievements she constantly feels inadequate and overwhelmed by any task, job or project that she has to do. “I always wonder if I am qualified or if I will be able to do something and with that I have learnt to break everything down into small finite tasks and literally take every day as it comes with the determination to do my best and let the chips fall where they may,” she said. In everything that she does, Otlhabanye draws inspiration from the Bible characters and lives they lived. “I think their stories and walk in faith is truly inspiring. I am also greatly inspired by my parents who truly live a life of contentment and authenticity,” she concluded.