BUSINESS consultant Cue Paseka Ramokoatsi has literally made it his business to coach and develop the next generation of Lesotho’s entrepreneurs.
With employment opportunities hard to come by, many tertiary graduates have very little choice but to venture into the cut-throat world of entrepreneurship to survive.
However, most of these graduates lack the necessary skills to set up successful business enterprises. This is mainly because they have not received training in entrepreneurship.
This is where Mr Ramokoatsi comes in. As a business consultant and entrepreneurship expert facilitator, he has made it his business to coach people in business through his consultancy firm, P Dollar and Associates.
Born in Ha-Maliepetsane in the Mafeteng district, Mr Ramokoatsi’s passion for business burned from an early age and he subsequently enrolled at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) for a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) degree.
He has also received several trainings and certifications in enterprise training from the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This has enabled him to be accredited as a trainer of trainers (a master trainer). He is also an ILO expert in women entrepreneurship development.
“I train people on how to develop sustainable business ventures,” Mr Ramokoatsi recently told the Business Journal.
“I train them to understand what a business plan is and how to develop it. I also equip them with support skills like how to keep their accounting books properly, marketing, costing, buying and stock control.”
His advice for budding entrepreneurs is that they must not overlook the basic things in their quest to being tomorrow’s millionaires.
“From a distance, venturing into business looks like an easy thing but in reality there are many challenges which people encounter. These challenges tend to discourage many entrepreneurs into abandoning their projects half way through.
“The key is to be ready for these challenges. Many people often go into business by chance and therefore most of the times are not ready to face the challenges within.”
He said the common mistakes many commit include going into business without enough information and this has led many to developing products that do not respond to the needs of the market.
“Many people make the mistake of failing to conduct enough market research about their chosen business ventures and in the end they may struggle to secure reliable market for their products.
“Another important thing that most entrepreneurs fail to do is to properly register their businesses.
“When you are fully registered, you stand a good chance to be competitive in tendering for projects which you would not be eligible for without proper registration.
“The government is currently the biggest buyer and you must be properly registered for your business to be engaged by the government departments.
He further said that lack of access to finance was a challenge which hindered many businesses from developing to their full potential.
He also advised budding entrepreneurs against financing their start-ups through loans, saying they should only approach the banks when they needed to expand their businesses.
“We don’t encourage prospective entrepreneurs to finance their start-ups through loans because banks normally prefer to give out loans to expand existing businesses to avoid risks.
“It is difficult for them to invest funds into an untested business idea. As much as possible entrepreneurs should try to fund their business start-ups from their own savings no matter how little they have.”
He also insisted that despite the challenges, anyone regardless of their background, can venture into business.
“Anybody can venture into business, regardless of their background. All you have to do is to identify a need in the area where you live. Then you suggest a solution that can address that need or problem.
“To identify a problem in the community does not necessarily require one to be educated because you can talk to the people to understand what they need and how they would like it to be resolved.
“This should be done taking into account how your solution or product will answer the community’s needs while also beating the competitors.”
Mr Ramokoatsi’s career took off soon after graduating from NUL in 2009 when he worked an organization that trained would-be entrepreneurs on business development.
“From a young age, I have always been fascinated by business. It was only natural that I should study for a business-related degree so that I could help others to establish sustainable business ventures. I also grew up watching business coaches on television and this fueled my passion.
“I later attended many other ILO trainings to further refine my skills on how to help start-ups and existing businesses. I am currently a master trainer, which means I am a trainer of other trainers accredited by the ILO,” Mr Ramokoatsi said.