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Woman finds strong support for hats business

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Woman finds strong support for hats business

Sitting at home and growing increasingly frustrated at her lack of opportunities, unemployed graduate, Nancy Changu Thibatsela took her destiny firmly into her own hands.

Inspired by her mother, who ordered hats from South Africa to sell locally, the 28-year-old Nswazwi native decided to take the venture one step further.

She attended a two-day hat-making course in Cape Town in 2017 and has not looked back since.

In November 2018, after months of pain staking research and long hours spent perfecting her craft, Thibatsela founded HeadGear Millinary.

Based in Francistown, the business provides hats of all shapes, sizes, incredible colours and intricate designs.

As well as Thibatsela and her mum, the venture includes two other employees.

Exactly a year in existence and the enterprise has already secured a deal to supply The Old Apostolic Church throughout Botswana.

Their hats are mostly for women who want fashionable, handcrafted, original designs for church, weddings and special occasions.

“When people first see them, they say, wow, how is that made? To make a hat I use sinamay, a material obtained from the palm of a banana tree. Sinamay is a Philippines word. I also use beads, flowers, duck feathers, quills and stretching laces,” revealed the ever smiling Thibatsela, adding that despite the complex designs and patterns it takes her about two hours to complete a hat.

Having finished her Form Five in 2010, Thibatsela enrolled on a Tourism and Hospitality course at ABM College.

However, after graduation, jobs proved hard to come by.

Desperate to earn a decent living, the ambitious young lady tapped into her mother’s passion for hats.

“I developed interest in knowing how they are made and I told myself I can do this, my mother, Sebongile Precious Thibatsela, does not have to buy from South Africa anymore. My parents were very supportive to my idea.

“They took me to Cape Town for a course. They paid P35, 000 for the course including transport, accommodation and meals. My mother is also part of HeadGear Millinary business and she no longer sells stock from abroad.”

Thibatsela produces three types of hats: fascinators, hatnators and full hats.

“A fascinator is a small hat with a flower while a hatnator is sort of a fascinator but does not cover the whole head. The last type is a full hat covering the whole head with a flower,” she explained.

“I have many designs but can incorporate any desired details that a customer wants,” continued Thibatsela, adding she accommodates three types of clients.

Woman finds strong support for hats business
ELEGANT: One of Thibatsela’s intricate designs

“People with low income that want a unique look and middle income people with medium earnings to spend but still want something to stand out and be special.

The last customer is the one with much money to spend and can order any hat they want!”

Thibatsela believes that as well as the quality of her products, the secret to her success is her excellent customer service

“A customer can return a hat five times saying change here and I do with a smile so they can always come back for more hats.

“My prices range from P65 to P1, 000 for the biggest hats,” she told Voice Money, noting that in a busy month she can earn up to P40, 000.

When quizzed on the challenges she faces, Thibatsela’s smile fades for the first time since the interview began.

“Some people take my products on credit and then take time to pay. And since I buy my materials in South Africa my business was affected during the Xenophobic riots. I had to stay for two weeks without material.”

Nevertheless, business remains ‘good’ and Thibatsela is upbeat about the future.

She plans to eventually open up her own manufacturing factory as well as giving back to the community by teaching locals how to make hats.

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Experts discuss opportunities at BNYC TV/film festival

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Experts discuss opportunities at BNYC TV/film festival

Local creatives and students alike gathered at the University of Botswana Indoor Sports arena this past Saturday to hear from film industry experts and trend setters at the annual Botswana National Youth Council TV and film festival.

Held under the theme, mobilizing partnerships for the development of the local TV/ film industry, the event was officially opened by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Empowerment and Sport and Culture Development, Kago Ramokate.

In his opening remarks Ramokate said, “The intention of the festival is to facilitate the participation of young people pertaining to the role of the local TV/ film industry in developing Botswana’s economy and in creating sustainable jobs for our youth. This festival also serves as a vehicle to capacitate Botswana youth and youth serving organizations, to enable them to take advantage of international trends and opportunities in the film industry.”

The discussion comprising Duma Ndlovu – who is the executive producer of award winning soapie Muvhango, Ralph “Stagga Don Dada” Williams – associate producer in the United Kingdom, Entertainment lawyer in the United States Carlos Pimentel as well as Thato Thebe of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology discussed, “The Power of Collaborations in accessing the international markets”.

“Botswana has a lack of entertainment lawyers and that’s something we have to rectify immediately. And it starts with education, so we have to engage with academia to make sure to integrate legal education into the classroom. One-Way is for the students to empower themselves, to lead that movement,” said Pimentel who went on to explain that the basis of survival of any collaboratory business is the understanding of the legalities involved.

The last panel consisting of Dr. Kennedy Ramojela, University of Botswana, Presley Chweneyagae of The River, Chef Joseph Seeletso, and Maxwell Dichi of Muvhango discussed, “The Available Opportunities for On-Screen Talent”.

“If I am sitting somewhere maybe in Mozambique and I’ve never been to Botswana and there’s a film that shows the Okavango or a place in Ramotswa, then I’ll get curious and say ‘I must go and see this place’ Those are some of the things that the screen does to help us economically to develop our tourism and our businesses, ”said Presley as he shed some light on how on screen opportunities could still create more opportunities in business.

In an interview with Voice Entertainment after the discussion, Ndlovu boldly told the publication that, “I think producers and stakeholders should really try and find partners from outside, first of all to produce content for Batswana but also to make it commercial so it can go to other markets and that’s important.”

Asked how local television content and film producers could penetrate the relatively small Botswana market, Ndlovu said “the world is crying for international content so we all need to rush to try and position ourselves. It’s not like before when Hollywood had a front row seat. Now we can also reach through streaming platforms. There is so much where we can share our content, and it’s no longer as expensive as it used to be.”

The film festival is on its second year and continues to attract attention of local creatives evident by the growing turn out each year.

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Botswana to benefit from Kaza

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Botswana to benefit from Kaza

Land rover experience tour

The 13th edition of the Land Rover Experience Tour (LET) 2019, which kicked off on 31st October reached Botswana on Monday.

The expedition team (47 in number) arrived at Elephant Sands where the Botswana Tourism Organisation hosted a “Welcome to Botswana” dinner for them before they proceeded to Shakawe, Kasane and eventually Johannesburg.

The tour, is a partnership between the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) Secretariat and Land Rover Germany, with support from KAZA’s five partner States of Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Angola and Zimbabwe.

Though established to demonstrate the extreme durability of Land Rover vehicles through challenging off-road adventures, the tour leader Dag Rogge said the experience is also beneficial to the KAZA States as the world gets to know more about the five countries through a collection of professionally taken photographs.

“Land Rover Germany will also produce a short film from this off-road adventure which will be shared with the rest of the world,” he said.

Rogge further said the experience which since 2000 has stood for breath-taking imagery and the discovery of foreign cultures will help position KAZA as a leading nature, cultural heritage, adventure and ‘off-the-beaten track’ tourism destination in Africa.

“The experience will further develop cross border tourism offerings through the main expedition and subsequent leisure tours. Perhaps to demonstrate the extent and reach of visibility harnessed from KAZA as a direct result of the expedition, a promotional video published on YouTube by Land Rover Germany in advance of the expedition in November 2018 has been viewed over 3.3 million times.

Welcoming the team at Elephant Sands on Monday evening BTO Acting Chief Executive Officer Tafa Tafa said the KAZA Land Rover Experience Tour will open many opportunities for the nation.

Botswana to benefit from Kaza
HAVING A LIGHT MOMENT: Tafa and Rogge

Tafa said the crew has been travelling roads less travelled in the country, which will in turn give the terrains the much needed attention.

He said this will further open up new activities and routes for people to come and enjoy.

He welcomed the initiative and commended Land Rover for organising such an expedition.

“We hope to get feedback from all of you about your experiences here, which we’ll then use to sell Botswana as an adventure country,” he said.

Tafa further told the team that they should count themselves amongst the luckiest since they drove into the country and saw clearly what the country has to offer.

“Most people fly in and out of the country, but you drove in and you got to see the country’s changing landscapes and the wildlife,” he said.

The tour is generally expected to increase the profile of the KAZA TFCA and its tourism offerings.

It is further expected to raise awareness on transboundary destinations and products in the region, showcase identified nature, biodiversity and community development initiatives and show KAZA as a premier tourism destination for regional and international markets.

This expedition is further expected to foster expansion of the Land Rover Adventure Travel Programme.

Currently, Land Rover Germany offers exclusive trips to Namibia and Botswana.

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SADC Regional Agricultural Policy to enhance access to markets

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SADC Regional Agricultural Policy to enhance access to markets

One of the major aspects which the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional Agricultural Policy is expected to address in the medium to long-term is access to markets within the region.

This was said by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Agricultural Development and Food Security, Jimmy Opelo this week during the launch of the European Union (EU) funded SADC-FAO project.

The project’s main focus is to provide support towards the operationalization of the SADC regional agricultural policy.

This is in addition to creating sustainable agricultural growth and socio-economic development due to enhanced production, competitiveness and improved regional and international trade.

“One of the things that sometimes we become oblivious to is that, once production and all other things have been done, is what’s next and it is the market and we need to also have the same information as far as sharing the markets concerned,” said the P.S.

Opelo says Botswana has ambitions of digitalizing its economy and as such information communication technology is considered an enabler in this process.

“It is against this backdrop that this project is in line with Botswana’s ambitions of enhancing information on agricultural production,” the P.S said, adding the project seeks to implement an effective agricultural information management system to guide policy makers and all other players to take appropriate decisions.

The project will allow timely collection, analysis and communication of information on any warnings of disaster and risks and monitoring of vulnerability and food security in the region.

“All of it I aimed at ensuring that we keep to our promise of sustainable agriculture and improved food security,” Opelo said.

Opelo revealed there is also a provision which states that there is some form of financial assistance which comes along with this project.

According to the P.S, the agricultural sector contributes between 4 percent and 27 percent of GDP across the SADC member states.

“The SADC region is rich in livestock and crop resources, but unfortunately with animals’ diseases and crop pests it is necessary that as a regional bloc we are in this together.”

Dr Rene Czudek, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Botswana says the policy was crafted to develop and advance agriculture in the SADC region.

“The policy was approved in June 2013 by the SADC council of ministers,” stated Czudek, further adding that the implementation of the policy should be supported by the SDAC Regional Agricultural Investment Plan of 2017-2022 that developed under the technical assistance of FAO.

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