Small Car Wash Business in Botswana and the Desperate Youth: Entrepreneurs or Employment Seekers? A case study of Gaborone

Motsomi Ndala Marobela, Hanna Mebratu, John Peter Waziri Shunda


In recent years Botswana has witnessed an unprecedented boom in small business informal car washers. This paper explores the emergence and spread of this phenomenon, with specific attention to the capital city, Gaborone, where there is a high concentration of small car washers. Relying on critical realist philosophy and the entrepreneurial ecosystem conceptual model, we explore the issue of youth self-entrepreneurship against the critical factor of employability. Our findings reveal a number of pointers to socio-economic needs and vulnerable livelihoods. While Botswana economy has been largely characterised by growth, however the economy is not creating jobs, hence the unemployment crisis, which pushes many young people to seek alternative means of survival. In this context car wash entrepreneurship becomes appealing as it is relatively simple to start and requires little start-up capital. Car wash businesses provide hope to desperate youth in search for jobs, as well as contributing to the economy. However, in the long term this option is not sustainable and profitable in its present form. This calls for robust policy intervention to formalise it to SMME status.

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