BIHL Trust, established in 2007 to give back to the community in a deliberate and methodical manner, remains committed to supporting the national cause of upscaling education and skills among Batswana. In this vein, BIHL Trust has donated P200,000 to the Maru-a-Pula Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Scholarship program. The Trust has been a proud partner of the program since 2012, having committed to make the aforementioned donation annually to the OVC fund. The handover was celebrated among students and friends of the hallmark secondary school at an intimate assembly on June 7th, 2017.

To date, BIHL Trust has invested over P1 million towards the OVC scholarship. The program provides full scholarships to students who demonstrate exceptional academic excellence and ability to study at Maru-a-Pula Secondary School. The MaP OVC fund is a pool where companies and individuals are able to donate towards the tuition, personal upkeep, boarding costs and associated fees of qualifying students, whose parents or guardians do not have such financial capacity.

Said BIHL Group CEO Catherine Lesetedi-Letegele, “BIHL Trust has continued to be a proud partner of this scholarship program, because we understand that our youth need as much support to hone the skills and knowledge that will empower them to become industry builders and shapers. Through our partnership with MaP, we are able to make an active contribution towards bridging the education and skills development gap, empowering youth who may have had a challenging upbringing, with access to world-class education. They therefore can be mentored by industry captains, gain knowledge and go on to found and lead operations that grow our economy.”

Alongside BIHL Trust, the scholarship program is supported by entities including the American Friends of Maru-a-Pula, the UK MaP Trust, MaP alumni and other local businesses. The initiative began in 2005, sponsoring two scholarships and by 2008, the program had grown to sponsor 27 OVCs. Several students enrolled in this program have graduated from the school with results attaining them entry into among the world’s most prestigious universities including Princeton (USA), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Stanford University (USA), to name a few.

On the back of this partnership, the BIHL Trust recently announced a new direction in early 2017, namely the 2017-2021 strategy. The strategy is geared to enhance and support community projects that align with six areas, namely, Education, Social Upliftment, Economic Empowerment, Public Health, Recreation and Environmental Conservation. For the current financial year, BIHL Trust has allocated majority of its budget to invest in initiatives that support educational programmes.

In addition to its partnership with the MaP OVC scholarship fund, BIHL Trust has contributed to the establishment of other educational programmes. These include the BIHL Trust Adopt-a-School campaign, which erected library facilities for 11 primary schools in especially rural areas across Botswana. BIHL Trust also established the BIHL Trust Thomas Tlou Scholarship, currently sponsoring Batswana youth to pursue Masters degrees in Botswana, that will further empower them in contributing towards local economic development.

The Trust’s new direction came off the back of considering pressing social needs of Batswana, the extent to which private sector aid is required and communities in which BIHL Group operates where community resources are scarce. The 5-year strategy also seeks to align with Botswana Government’s Vision 2036 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Concluded Lesetedi-Letegele, “Botswana’s youth are part of a unique time in our country’s history. Our very socio-economic development essentially depends on the strengthening of our entrepreneurial spirit to successfully diversify our economy. We believe our continued support of educational initiatives that uplift Botswana’s youth especially, can result in more skilled citizens who found and operate more strong small and large businesses that contribute significantly towards Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and essentially drive sustainable development.”