MASERU — In a bid to drive entrepreneurship and economic growth, the Basotho Enterprise Development Cooperation (Bedco) has embarked on a nationwide campaign to teach entrepreneurial skills to assist people in starting small business ventures. Bedco’s Chief Executive Officer Robert Likhang said the campaign will run until March next year to build entrepreneurial skills and to sensitise students and the public on entrepreneurship.
He pointed out that early this year, Bedco underwent restructuring and re-branding to better address entrepreneurship challenges and drive economic growth. He said the initiative will also include a youth facet where learners will be visited and educated on entrepreneurship as a sustainable alternative to employment.
According to Likhang, there is no sufficient business training for Basotho to start up and grow sustainable business enterprises hence Bedco embarked on the initiative. The programme will include assistance for start ups with business plans, start up skills as well as laws on starting up businesses. “Not only do we provide business training and entrepreneurship skills but we also help start-ups with management skills to help them grow,” Likhang said.
“We have internationally accredited training programmes to equip entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and we will soon be accrediting trainers in addition to the staff we have, to assist us in the skills training initiative,” he added. For existing start ups, Likhang said Bedco would provide enterprise support by facilitating value chain linkages among businesses operating in similar industries.
“For example, in a piggery business, someone who rears piglets will be linked with a meat wholesaler and so on. From supplier to retailer up to the end consumer,” Likhang explained. He said Bedco would strive to assist its members in getting access to the partial credit guarantee scheme offered by LNDC and the government.
“We are also trying to establish a means of an in-house fund,” Likhang said. Bedco was established in 1980 to develop Basotho enterprises and to address the challenges Basotho face when establishing businesses including a lack of entrepreneurial thinking and insufficient business training, among others.
Bedco has two other regional offices in addition to the central office in Maseru. The Mafeteng office covers the southern region including Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing, while the northern region office covers Leribe, Butha-Buthe and Mokhotlong.