11 February 2022GABORONE - As a key driver towards driving progress and growth of the National Economy well into the future, youth and youth-owned enterprises are crucial, and their involvement in economic platforms is an essential part of that. This was the impetus behind the National Youth Budget Review, hosted by Ignytwealth in association with Stanbic Bank Botswana.Hosted at the Stanbic Bank Accelerate Incubator, itself an ecosystem for youth empowerment and growth, the platform brought together leading youth captains as well as stalwarts across a diverse range of industries to unpack the implications and opportunities of the National Budget as delivered by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Peggy Onkutlwile Serame.The purpose of the engagement, according to Ignytwealth Managing Director, Seatla Ratshosa, was to ensure youth capacity development, providing young entrepreneurs with opportunities to develop their potential in education, to work in a fair and healthy way, and to participate in decision-making and National development. “Promoting youth participation in all sectors of society, as well as in decision-making processes at all levels, can benefit both youths and the decision-making Government. In addition, participation by the youth strengthens their understanding of relevant issues and enhances their sense of responsibility to address them.”.As guest of honour and keynote speaker of the night, the Honourable Minister underscored the importance of youth dialogue and active engagement with Government to help co create a thriving economy. “It is about simplifying what sometimes may seem like very complex topics. We can do more as a ministry, and this is one of our efforts, to ensure that there is more openness and less technical focus. We want to be more open so that you can understand what we do, how we do it and why we do what we do.”Unpacking the National Budget further, Grant Thornton Botswana Managing Partner, Kalyanaraman Vijay, underscored the alignment between the Reset Agenda and the core Budget priority areas. “This budget comes following 2 tough years as a result of the negative impact of COVID-19 on Botswana & across the world and, on the same note, with a positive outlook which the domestic economy is projecting and the confidence coming out of the successful vaccination rollout which is expected to 80% by end March 2022 (for the first dose).” He continued, “The initiatives budgeted for and outlined will happen with seamless integration between public and private sector. The key is the intention and effective implementation. It opens up significant opportunities for citizens and especially youth.”Providing a very real and engaging perspective, Honourable Minister Serame joined panelists in debating key themes around “Gaining Understanding and Leveraging Opportunities.” Panelists included Tshepiso Leinane (iBranch), Ndiko Muzila (Dawn Bell Academy), Kebalatetse Kebalatetse (Travel Agency), Sidney Nsala (BEPA), Dr. Malebogo Bakwena (Department of Economics, University of Botswana), and Keabetswe Newel (The Business Weekly & Review)..Amongst the key areas debated and deliberated upon were Collaborations and Partnerships, Innovation and Technology, Compliance, and Trade and Investment Capacity building, with Chilo Ketlhoafetse serving as panel moderator.Larona Makgoeng, Head of Accelerate at Stanbic Bank Botswana, closed the session by imploring youth to support the Honourable Minister in her role, to work to ensure greater global competitiveness, as well as an end to corruption in favour of more inclusive economic progress.What was clear for all to see is the appetite for youth to engage more intimately with finance and policy matters, including those of policy reform. The platform has been created and the dialogue begun; what remains, ushered by the Review’s continued momentum, is to continue to transform ideation into action. This is in line with Stanbic Bank’s desire to empower youth in a sustainable and inclusive manner, co creating the future towards the very tenets of Vision 2036 and indeed wider National ambitions as espoused in Government’s Reset Agenda.ENDS.