BLURB: With the number of youth unemployment reaching dizzying heights, most young people fall through the cracks, choosing a life of drugs and alcohol abuse.
However for some young people in Francistown they’ve stayed true to the life is exactly old adage, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
A group of enterprising young men carrying cameras in and around Nswazwi Mall has been a source of intrigue in the second city.
Usually around 20 in number, the youthful entrepreneurs have found a niche, clicking away at their cameras to put food on the table.
Ranging between 18 and 24 in age, these proud Francistowners are tackling unemployment head-on.
Targeting predominantly young trendy people looking for ‘dope’ pictures for their social media accounts, the photographers grouped themselves and have been selling pictures at the mall since September last year.
A group of seven under the name of Kasi Eye Studio arrive at Nswazwi Mall at 7:30 every morning and dominate the area around KFC.
Their spokesperson is 21-year-old Jani Ookeditse, a self-taught photographer who, together with Terrence Basupile, 20, started the multimedia company.
“Initially it was just the two of us. We only had one camera but we managed to raise enough money to buy two more,” revealed Ookeditse, fondling his Canon with the same affection one might cradle a new born baby.
He explained he first came across the concept in the capital city, where he spotted other youth taking pictures in Gaborone Malls.
“I decided to start a similar thing in Francistown. I then partnered with Terrence, who already had a camera, and today there’s seven of us,” he said.
Charging P5 a pic, Ookeditse says business is booming although one challenge they face is over-demanding customers.
“Some customers want their photo shoots at places we’re not allowed to operate in. There’s restricted entry in the mall and security guards here don’t compromise!”
The determined entrepreneur further told Voice Money that the yet-to-be-registered company needs to be refinanced to acquire modern tools.
“We currently don’t even have tripods and we need those for our videos and better pictures.”
Competing for the same market at Nswazi Mall is an even bigger group under the banner Creative Minds.
This enterprise, made up of about 15 young people, consists of three small companies: Mabina Photography, The Great 441 and Family Life.
Speaking on behalf of Creative Minds, Augustus Phillimon explained that although these are three independent companies, they work together whenever the need arises.
“If it does happen that one of the companies receives a lot of bookings in one day, usually another company will step in if the contracted company doesn’t have the capacity to handle four bookings in a day,” said Phillimon, adding his company also offers videography.
Creative Minds’ main challenge is lack of operating space.
“We do have the equipment, but we need electricity to be able to use them. We are struggling with power and it has been a challenge to even recharge our camera batteries. Thanks to a few good Samaritans, who’ve allowed us to charge from their businesses,” he said.
Phillimon called on the authorities to help the youngsters by empowering them with the basic skills required to run a business.
“Most of them are self-taught photographers. They need re-skilling, either through workshops or short courses. I also urge big media companies and event organisers to engage them.”
According to Phillimon, when business is good each photographer can make up to P4, 200 a month whilst a quiet month normally amounts to P1, 400.
“Roughly each one of them makes P200 a day, or P50 on a really bad day,” he added.