Boitshepo Bolele, director of Hlanganani ICT, has created an online education platform, e-Learning Botswana. Former Botswana deputy director of the youth department, Boitshepo Bolele, ambassador for the Women In Africa Initiative, works for the development of her community through education.
Boitshepo, your story is unique. She starts in a small village in Botswana, continued at the Ministry of Youth and today you speak at major international conferences to talk about education…
I was born in Mahalapye, Botswana. It’s a small village and until I was 17, I never left it. However, we were lucky to have a TV set. This created a virtual world for me, an opening. I was part of a larger international community. I could identify with international culture without leaving my environment. That is why, to this day, I value the strength of the virtual community. That is what led me to pursue studies. I graduated from the DeMontfort University – Leicester University in 1996 with a degree in Computer Science from the United Kingdom, and I also have a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration.
What has been the driving force behind your career path and your commitment to education in Africa?
I would have liked to have a mentor, younger. I give the new generation what I missed. Education transforms minds. Today, we run an online training platform that reaches students around the world. We also work with Wits Executive Education in South Africa to give leadership courses.
What is the situation of women in Botswana?
Women in Botswana are progressive. With the exception of politics, we are catching up with our male counterparts in all areas. The other challenge we face is in economic initiatives: women participate at the micro level, in the informal sector, in small companies, as opposed to the men who dominate in big companies.
Does entrepreneurship offer an alternative to these challenges?
Unemployment affects all populations. More and more graduates enter the labor market every year. The answer lies in entrepreneurship. Botswana’s population growth remains another challenge. We have a population of two million people. Therefore, all of our actions must take into account the export and this requires networking and a quality requirement.
To conclude, what do you say to young women who want to follow your example and build the Africa of tomorrow?
Bet on partnerships! There is no need to reinvent the wheel. The world is full of people ready to take you to the next level. If you choose partners on the other side of the border, take the time to study their culture as it influences people’s value system. You cannot separate a person from his culture. Invest in personal development through online courses like webinars. Internet is a classroom. Most importantly, be part of international women’s networks, such as the WIA Initiative, so that you can networks and access resources or help mobilize the necessary resources.
WOMEN IN TECH