Social Development — Goitsemang Boitshoko Maano
Goitsemang Boitshoko Maano works for the Francistown City Council as a Principal Community Development Officer. She has also been seconded to support the Trust for Community Initiatives/Botswana Homeless & Poor People’s Federation, an organisation Maano founded in 2011. Its objective is empowering poor people to actively participate in developing their livelihoods.
The Federation encourages a change in mind-set, mobilising poor people to embark on initiatives aimed at resolving the challenges they face. It organises saving schemes, through which members can support each other and improve their livelihoods.
“We encourage members to save their money and use it wisely. Members meet once a week to share and discuss their problems, which rekindles the spirit of working together and compassion. We support them to realise their potential,” says Maano.
After pooling their collective savings, members are then able to finance self-improvement projects like connecting water and electricity, refurbishing their homes, and start income generating projects.
From humble beginnings, with only six saving groups in Monarch location in 2011, the Federation now boasts 105 schemes throughout the country. It has a collective membership of 1916 people, of whom 1781 are women, and a total daily savings in excess of P556,000.
Members have also opened a savings account called Bhabhanani, through which every member saves as little as P20 every month. Members are able to borrow capital from the Federation, and use it to improve their basic living conditions. Examples include buying furniture and building materials, paying school fees, buying school uniforms, and connecting water and electricity to their homes.
“What is special about these schemes, is the initiative by poor people to change their situation. They learn and share natural skills that they use to create income-generating projects. They have created a very powerful social structure that enables them to comfort and inspire each other, and solve their problems together. Those who were previously marginalised, are now self-reliant and active community members,” says Maano.
She holds a degree in social work, and an honours degree in social development from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
For her efforts, Maano was selected this year as a Fellow of the Mandela Washington Young African Leaders Initiatives. She has also received numerous awards in recognition of her distinguished performance in public service, and her work in developing the lives of the less privileged. — Spike Ganetsang