THE Minister of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing, Chalane Phori, has applauded the resilience demonstrated by the small and medium business sectors during the harsh conditions it has operated under in the recent years.
Mr Phori was speaking at the official opening of a five-day Entrepreneurship Expo organised by the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) in partnership with The Entrepreneurship Network (TEN), which was held at the Maseru Mall on Monday.
TEN is a platform that showcases programmes and initiatives aimed at growing an entrepreneurial ecosystem that would pave way for job creation, accelerate innovation, and strengthen good entrepreneurial and professional practice to small businesses in Lesotho.
The network operates across all sectors and industries and intends to make Lesotho a more entrepreneur-friendly society by hosting regular events that would help to bridge the gap between the aspirations of the entrepreneurial community, investors, clients and policy makers.
“I am proud and humbled to have over a hundred Basotho led initiatives that have shown great resilience through the economic turmoil experienced in the country as a result of a number of factors including the volatility of the Loti and an EI Nino induced-drought that hit our economy hard in 2015/16. That you have survived this shows that our private sector is strong,” Mr Phori said.
Mr Phori thanked BEDCO for the support it continues providing Basotho entrepreneurs to facilitate the implementation of government policies and programmes.
“We acknowledge the critical role played by the private sector in complementing government’s efforts towards growing the economy. This is a partnership we take very seriously, hence our strategies to create an environment that is conducive for sustainable businesses,” he said.
Mr Phori added the Expo came at a ripe time when the government has committed to invest more in making it easy for small businesses to access finance, support networking and various other developments that are critical to the growth of businesses.
“The Government of Lesotho is committed to creating and expanding business opportunities for young people to ensure increased job creation and poverty reduction.”
In some of the ministry’s strategies that are targeting job creation, Mr Phori said, they will promote and support the establishment of the cooperative enterprises, construct market centres and slaughter houses, and refurbish BEDCO estates and the Lesotho Cooperatives College.
He further explained that through BEDCO, which is the ministry’s main partner in the Business Expo, they are committed to continue developing the capacity of micro, small and medium enterprises while at the same time intensifying district tours aimed at engaging entrepreneurs and prospective business people. This initiative is expected to stimulate the spirit of entrepreneurship and encourage business owners to plan for growth.