Meet Bogolo Kenewendo, Botswana’s 31-year-old Cabinet Minister

Two years after becoming Botswana's youngest MP, 31-year-old Bogolo Kenewendo has been appointed Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry

Born in the Motopi village in Boteti, it was clear early on that Kenewendo was destined for big things.

In 2009, she was selected as one of two youth delegates to represent Botswana at the United Nations General Assembly, where she was nominated to deliver the statement of African youth to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Two years later, she was invited to attend former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative for young women leaders.

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Inspired by her encounter and driven by a passion for youth development and women empowerment, Kenewendo co-founded Molaya Kgosi – a women leadership and mentorship programme that has been rolled out across several schools across Botswana.

“My path has kept changing as my life changes and as I see new opportunities, but the consistent undertone is my desire to impact development through policy in one office or the other,” she said in an interview with This is Africa.

“I am passionate about youth and women empowerment. There is so much more we can accomplish by ensuring that we invest in these resources. There is also a need for economic development, especially through private-sector growth.”

Kenewendo holds a Masters in International Economics from the University of Sussex in the UK, which she attained as a recipient of the prestigious Chevening Scholarship in 2012.

Prior to becoming an MP, Kenewendo worked as a trade economist in Ghana’s Department of Trade and Industry for several years, with a special focus on macro-economic policy, public debt management, trade policy, export development and trade and investment policy.

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Over the years, Kenewendo has been recognised multiple times for her resolve to build young leaders in her country.

In 2012, she was awarded the 10 Outstanding Young Persons award by the Junior Chamber International Botswana, while in 2016, she received the Botswana Change Makers Award in the business and leadership category.

In the same year, she walked away with the Formidable Woman Award and was honoured by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office International Leaders Programme.