In a live press conference, Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi, the First Lady of the Republic of Botswana, announced the much anticipated winners of the 2022 Diamonds Do Good Entrepreneurship Grants. In her address, the First Lady expressed the importance of natural diamonds as a resource for Botswana, as they helped transform the country from one of the poorest on the African continent to nearly the highest GDP per capita in all of continental Africa.
More gem-quality natural diamonds are recovered in Botswana than in any other country on earth, and the people “continue to derive true benefits from this shared natural resource.” According to the First Lady, those benefits are seen in high quality education, healthcare and world-class infrastructure. While the importance of natural diamonds to Botswana cannot be overstated, the First Lady says the country’s “most important natural resource is no doubt our youth.”
The Diamonds Do Good Entrepreneurship Grant Program was developed to support young entrepreneurs in diamond-producing countries like Botswana. Diamonds Do Good is a global nonprofit organization that supports programs that develop and empower people in natural diamond communities. In partnership with United People Global Biashara, an initiative that supports entrepreneurs, deserving people were selected for grants and support totaling $100,000. The winning entrepreneurs focus on business that helps build the future of their communities by creating jobs and providing goods and services with a lasting positive impact.
These are some of the amazing entrepreneurs selected for this year’s grants.
Mirriam Margret Mothibe 37 years old | Botswana | Startup in Agriculture
Mirriam Mothibe is a UPG Biashara entrepreneur with more than seven years of Marketing experience. She is also the founder of I 99 Farms, a business in the agricultural industry focused on producing vegetables such as tomatoes, butternuts, watermelon, green peppers, okra, green beans, cabbages and herbs, as well as poultry. She has always been passionate about agribusiness and started out in the farming business ten years ago.
Bangaly Bangoura 33 years old | Guinea | Agriculture Startup
Bangaly Bangoura is a young Guinean social entrepreneur. He is a founder and managing partner of the company Centre de l’Agriculture Intégrée Moderne (CAIM), and president of the Network of Young Entrepreneurs of Guinea (REJEG). CAIM’s main mission is to produce various trees for reforestation, give professional advice in the design and implementation of integrated agriculture projects and environmental protection and promote holy agricultural products at the national and international levels. He is also passionate about training and supporting young people of the REJEG center to contribute to the country’s development by giving them practical and theoretical knowledge while respecting the objectives of sustainable development of the United Nations.
Lebogang Manson 38 years old | Botswana | Startup in Transportation
Lebogang Manson has started and is running two businesses; the first is Chemdry Gaborone, a cleaning business that pioneered the use of eco-friendly cleaning products. Her second business, Cherished Kidz, is a start-up that aims to transform child transportation in Africa by positioning itself as the safe, reliable and most responsible transport of children. In 2020, Cherished Kidz made it to the top five in the International (Africa and Middle East) Women’s Prize of the Orange Social Venture Prize.
Tshireletso Seoromeng 26 years old | Botswana | Ongoing Business in Agriculture
Tshireletso Seoromeng is the Director Of Erba Pty Ltd. Erba farm is an urban farm that produces culinary herbs. Culinary herbs are a healthier alternative to spices. They currently have a range of seven herbs including mint, parsley, rosemary, coriander, rocket, oregano and basil. They’re also looking to soon agro-process related byproducts. Erba Pty has been supplying a big retailer since 2019 and recently signed an off-take agreement to supply a chain retailer with herbs in seven of their stores. Erba farm is now looking to add value to the value chain by increasing the shelf life of the produce through drying herbs.
Christelle Veringa 33 year old | DR Congo | Startup in Agriculture
Christelle Veringa is a founder of the MannaLola brand. Manna produces 100 percent pure and authentic honey in five varieties, packaging options and portion sizes. It offers DRC honey varieties to the local Congolese market with the goal of serving the export market in the long term. The company aims to control the entire value chain, from production to packaging and commercialization. Since 2019, MannaLola has been working with small producers to bring bee products to market, at the same time ensure a fair and stable income for their families while guaranteeing the quality of the product.
Mohamed Kamara 30 years old | Sierra Leone | Startup in Renewable Energy
Mohamed A Kamara is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Freetown Innovation Lab. He is an energetic Sierra Leonean who is passionate about making electricity accessible and affordable for everybody, especially the far-reached and deprived communities. His passion is in developing, designing and fabricating small-scale renewable energy systems built from recycled material to provide electricity for the less privileged to have access to lasting and sustainable electricity. Their innovation is a hybrid system of solar and windmill systems that are used to supply water through farm irrigation solutions and rural electricity to farming communities.
Mariatu Gbassay Kanu 28 years old | Sierra Leone | Startup in Manufacturing
Mariatu Gbassay Kanu is the Founder & Executive Director for the Resilient Empowerment and Advocacy of Life Skills (REAL), an initiative that has helped transform many young girls through basic hygiene practices and the understanding of the power of focusing on their various dreams and aspirations. They manufacture Shecures Sanitary Products, which are reusable sanitary pads that are made from high absorbent microfiber material, waterproof material and cotton material, all while being eco-friendly. They contain no harmful chemicals, no fragrances, no dyes. The pads are 100% biodegradable and 100% URV sterilized.
Lisa Von Benecke 29 years old | South Africa | Ongoing Business in Energy
Lisa is an electrical engineer with a passion for innovating for impact. She is the sole founder of a green technology startup called LC Dynamics that aims to bridge the gap to access to clean and affordable energy in South Africa and beyond by utilizing technology and creative design to solve consumer pains, provide education and increase uptake of green technology. The company provides two novel products in order to make green energy more accessible to customers: solar PV window blinds and a web-based API and platform that allows customers to complete an easy, visual and data-driven energy assessment and then link them to products and suppliers that can meet their energy needs.
Pamela Buthelezi 26 years old | South Africa | Online Tech Platform
Pamela Buthelezi is an aspiring UPG Biashara graduate, as well as a feminist and passionate tech entrepreneur, whose dedication lies in fighting high unemployment through technological innovation. Her company, Tag Your Delivery, is a township online goods delivery service and mobile application system that makes it possible for people to use a mobile app to order groceries, clothing and hardware with doorstep delivery.
Kudakwashe Sanhanga 30 years old | Zimbabwe | Established Mining Business
Kudakwashe Sanhanga, founder and president of the Zimbabwe Young Artisanal Miners Association. The association attracts illegal artisanal and small-scale miners and centralizes their operations on legal and registered mine claims, providing a solid base at the start of their journey to becoming emancipated and financially secure.