Botswana: Mashaba's Project Goes to Finals

Digital Content

Gaborone — The results for the just ended Orange African Social Venture Prize came in this week, and Botswana's Thabiso Mashaba's project, 'These Hands Social Enterprise project has been shortlisted in the top 11 projects and is in the running for 25 000 Euros (BWP 300 000) which is the top prize.

According to a press release from Orange Botswana Foundation, Mr Mashaba was competing against 608 innovation start-ups from 16 African countries.

"This is the second consecutive year that a project from Botswana has made it to the top 11 of the competition, with Mr Modisa from Botswana having won last year's challenge," states the release.

The release says this year's finalists include projects from Senegal, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Mali, Cameroon, Egypt, Niger, Morocco and Botswana.

"On November 18 at the AfricaCom Awards ceremony in Cape Town (South Africa), Orange will announce, among these 11 finalists, the three winners of the Orange African Social Venture Prize 2015," says the release.

It says the three winners will receive cash prize of 25 000, 15 000 and 10 000 Euros respectfully and also benefit from a six months coaching by the entrepreneurship and ICT professionals. The winner will be offered a patent registration in his country.

The release says Mr Mashaba, who is the brain behind this year's shortlisted project, stated that he developed the social enterprise project to address the "digital divide" that has left developing countries in Africa and Asia poor and disconnected from the rest of the world.

It further says these countries are said to have low levels of Internet usage due to lack of Internet infrastructure and prohibitively expensive for the average person to use.

"This digital divide and lack of connectivity not only keeps them underdeveloped but often thwart attempts at entrepreneurship, which can greatly reduce poverty. Many of these communities wish to lead their own development projects. However, their lack of connectivity leaves them unable to engage with development experts to obtain technical and financial assistance for their projects," he says.

The release states that the project aims to empower people in these marginalised communities to start their own development and entrepreneurial activities.

"Our plan is to create a social network (which does not require Internet access) that supports community-led development in impoverished countries. This social network will serve economically marginalised communities and allow them to obtain business services and international development consulting services from experts, youth and students in our global network that are also seeking meaningful work," it says.

It further says in addition, the platform will provide them with an avenue to seek funding, mentorship, and other support for their development and entrepreneurial initiatives.

It also states that the platform will allow those who do not have Internet access to network with those who can provide them the support necessary to start their own development projects.

"We believe that access to these networks and services will help these communities to overcome the digital divide," says Mr Mashaba.

Orange Botswana
Source: Daily News 5 November 2015