Diamond Empowerment Fund (supported by the international diamond industry) is a not-for-profit organization, with the mission “to support initiatives that develop and empower people in diamond communities worldwide.”
In order to highlight the work being done in this area, the DEF launched the Diamonds Do Good website to “share these stories”.
The latest stories of two women highlight the efforts of the Okavango Diamond Company to encourage entrepreneurship in Botswana.
The first is that of Boitshoko Kebakile who “recognized from a young age her affinity for craft and design”.
In Botswana, while in high school, Boitshoko “first encountered Art and Design and Technology in an educational setting, allowing her creativity to blossom”. During this period, she was introduced to beadwork, which for her was akin to “an instant love affair that has lasted ever since.”
Even as she went on to achieve a double major in international relations and applied economics, Boitshoko’s love for the craft, designing and making her own jewellery remained with her through her school and college years.
Once, in college, she was asked where she got her earrings from. That was to be her Eureka moment. Even as she responded, “I made them,” everything seemed to click into place at once. “As if by some divine synchronicity,” she recalls, “my economics lecture on supply and demand became a eureka moment for the potential of a young enterprise in jewellery making.”
Finally, after facing several challenges and hurdles she established her business and worked to make it a success.
“My story isn’t unique in that we all go through challenges that can either make or break us, but when we realize how challenges can be a potent source of inner power, we transmute them into seeds of strength. I sought to remind myself that I have all within me to succeed (particularly divine power, if you will).”
Thus was born the ‘House of Divinity’, the creator of splendid, colorful, handmade adornments.
In March of 2017, Boitshoko graduated from the Okavango Diamond Company Youth Entrepreneurship Programme.
And then there is Tito. In her childhood years, Tito had scarcely any knowledge of the diamond industry. But she had heard a few success stories after the discovery of diamonds in Botswana and post the country’s independence.
“Botswana is one of the richest diamond producers in the world,” she says, “but we find that Batswana don’t know much about diamonds.”
Tito’s life in Gaborone with her family, including a younger sister, revolved around family, church, and education. She was grateful for having the basic necessities of life — including free education from the government, a direct result of Botswana’s prosperity following the discovery of diamonds.
Tito excelled at her studies through high school. On completion, she took up employment as an administrative assistant in a lab with the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership. “It was then that she made the decision to become a physiotherapist, as it would allow her to become a healthcare entrepreneur and create jobs, while simultaneously improving people’s quality of life, something she was always passionate about,” Diamond Do Good stated. “Her hard work throughout school and knowledge gained in the workforce afforded Tito a scholarship from the Botswana Ministry of Education to study physiotherapy at the University of Cape Town.” After graduating she started work at the Botswana Ministry of Health as a physiotherapist.
Her ambitious outlook to better herself and the keen interest in learning more about the diamond industry led her to apply for the Okavango Diamond Company Youth Entrepreneurship Programme in 2017.
“I think the knowledge and skills I learned are vital for any start-up or existing business,” she says of that period. “The skills will enable me to start up and run my business professionally while keeping abreast with the changing trends and demands of the health and wellness industry.”
Tito’s aim is to set up her own practice as “an integrated physiotherapy and wellness facility with a focus on improving the health and wellbeing of diamond manufacturing industry workers in Gaborone”.
But she doesn’t want to limit herself. After first establishing her practice within the diamond community in Botswana, Tito hopes to expand into other manufacturing industries like textile and food production, as well as other market sectors such as the law enforcement agencies, university and professional sports teams and corporate sector organizations.
“Both Tito and Boitshoko are excellent examples of the promise of Botswana’s youth, and the role companies like the Okavango Diamond Company are taking to help fulfill this promise for a sustainable future,” Diamonds Do Good concludes.
Okavango Diamond Company Youth Entrepreneurship Programme is a seven-month part-time programme, which was developed in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch Business School-Executive Development (USB-ED) and diamond consultants World Diamond Manufacturers (WDM) Botswana designed to expose Batswana aged 18 to 35 years to the diamond value chain and provide formal entrepreneurship training to assist them in exploring and developing their entrepreneurial ambitions, Diamonds Do Good outlines.
“Okavango Diamond Company Youth Entrepreneurship Programme provides participants the opportunity to develop a greater appreciation of the diamond industry through extensive workshops and field trips covering exploration through to diamond jewellery retail,” says Kutlo Thathana, the Programme’s Managing Director. “As part of their learning, each participant has been equipped to refine their own unique business idea.”
Pics Courtesy: Diamonds Do Good