By Tapela Morapedi
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) Dr Mompati Mmalane has recently urged students at the University of Botswana (UB) to develop a culture of creating their own jobs as opposed to seeking employment from the formal sector. However, he has challenged them to envision self employment beyond the usual spectrum of entrepreneurship but venture into research as a potential industry to pursue self-employment.
Dr Mmalane said this when officiating at the launch of BHP Post Doctoral Fellow, Dr Motswedi Anderson’s study on Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). The study titled: “#HepZero: Silent No More” will engage adults aged 18-40 years using participatory modalities to evaluate their knowledge and perspective towards HBV.
Addressing the study participants who were all UB students, Dr Mmalane implored them to emulate Dr Anderson by applying for International Research Grants as self salary support to conduct research that is specific to Botswana in order to help generate knowledge necessary to influence national health policies. “You must do like Dr Anderson and employ yourselves by applying for grants to conduct various research projects,” he said.
With Botswana’s unemployment on the increase, Universities and institutions of higher learning are including Entrepreneurship in their syllabi in order to promote autonomy, independence and self-employment opportunities for its graduates.
According to Statistics Botswana’s quarter three(Q3) results of the Quarterly Multi-Topic Survey (QMTS), unemployment rate increased by 3.1% form 17% to 20.7% as compared to the results of the 2015/16 annualised Botswana Multi-Topic Household Survey (BMTHS). Because of high unemployment, many graduates leave universities and colleges least confident of securing a salaried job in the formal sector. The graduates are also not prepared enough and confident of exploring entrepreneurship opportunities or opening private practice.
Seemingly those who dare take their chances and pursue self-employment, often do so in the usual industries or enterprises where competition to penetrate the market is as saturated as the job market itself. Many such ventures exclusively depend on Government tenders..
Dr Mmalane suggests however that taking the road least travelled could be the biblical narrow path that would lead the nation to entrepreneurial success. He told the students to change the norm and choose research as a form of self-employment, an area which remains to this day a domain for academics in universities and scientists in research institutes. Individual University graduates and young scientists were urged to tap into the research industry and create their own career pathways..
Dr Mmalane opines “ I wish is too see ambitious graduates every year exit the lecture theatres of institutions of higher learning and walk into the larger world with their heads held high, confident enough to plunge themselves into the deep to pursue research for a living”
The hope for Dr Mmalane, himself a researcher is that among these graduates shall be the next generation of scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs and small business owners. Whatever field individual graduates may choose, the key should be the resolve to follow the road less travelled and carve out their own unique career pathways.