Botswana: Okhola Martha Masiele

Botswana: Okhola Martha Masiele

Date: November 9, 2016
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I was introduced to Gender Links, where I was taught about business. I had passion for business but my main challenge was that I couldn’t save money. With the training I got from Gender Links I was able to overcome that. I learned to set prices that will certain me profits and also record keeping. I realised the importance of a market research to determine if my products were a necessity to the consumers.

I started the programme in 2013 and have attended all the seminars because I did not want to miss anything. The main challenge was that the facilitators had little time to explain everything to us; they had only 3 days to complete the book that was given. Using a computer was also a challenge that we later overcame, we were taught how to create email addresses but with time we all seem to forget them. Our business plans were too long and as of that the facilitators encouraged us to go to the youth offices to get the forms the youth use for applying for loans to use as guides for our business plans.

I know work for Ipelegeng, the facilitators taught me that a business should have profits. The council did not assist me in any way, only Gender Links has helped me. GL has tried to explain to the council that I was in a competition with women from 5 other councils and got position 2 out of 10 contestants. I went to South Africa to attend the GL Summit where I scooped first position. I need a place to conduct my business as the Local Enterprise Authority has shown interest in helping me financially and also to go to school for further education provided I bring proof of business space which the council and Kgatleng Land board is reluctant to help me with despite the attempts of GL. I have pleaded for help from the local chiefs who have promised to arrange a meeting with the Member of Parliament in my area.

My life has been very difficult from the moment I was separated from my mother at 3months old. I was raised by my paternal grandmother who passed and was sent to live with my aunt who abused me; my father too was very abusive to a point where I ran away from home. Later in life I met a man whom I had 2 children with wo was also abusive, he took my kids away from me to live elsewhere and threatened to kill me if I came anywhere close to my children. I met another man who was also very abusive whom I had 3 children with, he will physically and verbally abuse me in front of the children, and he also abused our disabled child. I am still living a difficult life because my father will not let me contact my 2 older children who were taken away from me by their father; my current partner is no different as he abuses me. Because GL has taught me about abuse when my partner attempts to abuse me I ignore him and focus on trying to better my children’s lifestyle.

I became committed to the church because they say in God everything is possible it all became a little easier. The change in my life is that I am now independent I strive to support my children with all they need, my children are now getting better grades at school as they have given their all to the church. There is a link between abuse and independence; abuse can be prevented when one has a business.

I try to encourage women who are in my situation to speak out and seek for help. While others do, some are reluctant. The community has seen change in me because I no longer ask for much from them I have even gained weight and am glowing, when they ask how I am I am now able to talk about all the abuse I have experienced from childhood openly. I tell everyone about GL and how they helped me.

My intention is to draw out a business plan and market myself to certain companies; I plan to further the education I got from Gender Links at other institutions. By 2030 I hope my business will be prosperous because as of now the business place and money is still a challenge that I plan to overcome. I hope I will be supplying the nation at large and neighbouring countries with good quality chickens. I know now that a business needs patience and I am ready to overcome all the obstacles because I am determined to be a successful business woman.