Only 25 start-ups enrolled in BIH’s First Step Ventures Centre since 2014

Parliament has been told that there are many companies that failed to meet funding requirements for First Step Ventures Centre (FSVC) at Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) in the past three years. Responding to a question from the house, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Alfred Madigele said 193 companies applied to enroll, but only 25 made it.

Dr Alfred Madigele

According to the minister, the main challenges encountered by unsuccessful companies include lack of funding for prototype development, market and business facilitation, lack of commitment to achieving project milestones by the promoter as per the contract with BIH;  low level of readiness by the company to start the project and low uptake of the innovations by private and public entities.

Dr Madigele said a total of 193 youth companies presented their business projects to First Step Ventures Centre at the BIH from 2014 – 2017. Of the 193 companies that pitched, 95 could not meet the requirements while 98 proceeded to apply to enroll in the programme. “Of the 98 that I have just referred to, 25 were successful and 73 were not,” he said.

The 25 successful ones incude Biodiesel, Newfield Holdings, Magri, Bitbrands, BUA, Modile Data Labs, Momoso Enterprise, Social Light, Bricks 4 Kidz, Ditec Mobile, Speed Series, Teracam, World Queues, Spachee, Modisar, Deaftronics,  Lesaka, JSI Rock Tools, Pump Services, Gole Solutions, Allgreen Holdings, Mediashack, Nimotech, Kaelekae and Agricom.

Dr Madigele said successful companies were enrolled into the incubation programme and received support with business coaching and development, business network opportunities, technical and business advisory services, subsidised office space (which includes furnished office with internet and telephone), as well as exposure to local and international market opportunities.

“The current state of operations of these companies is that they have graduated out of the programme and are seeking customers and investment to grow their businesses,” he added. The unsuccessful companies were referred to other organisations for funding.

Members of Parliament wanted to know the number of youth start-up companies that have presented/pitched their business projects to the First Step Ventures Centre (FSVC) at Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) in the past three (3) years; (ii) the number and names of youth companies that were successful and those that were unsuccessful; (iii) the support that was given to successful companies and benefits, their current state of operations and what happened to the unsuccessful companies; and (iv) the main challenges that unsuccessful companies were faced with and the support that was given to them to help them overcome challenges.