Standard Lesotho Bank, Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) and Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDCO) have pledged M500 000 to young Basotho who produce highly innovative income-generating projects.
The money would be disbursed every year and payable after three years, according to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on Tuesday by representatives of the three organisations.
The deal would run for five years beginning next month, and seeks to ensure the youths are given much-needed support to establish viable projects.
According to details of the MoU, 25 business proposals are to be entered into the competition, with the best three being shortlisted by a team of experts. The winner would then be chosen and awarded the M500 000 loan. No collateral is required before the money is disbursed.
In his address at the signing ceremony, LRA Commissioner-General, Thabo Letjama, said the three organisations had decided to come together to defuse the youth-unemployment “time-bomb”, which he said threatened the very future of the nation.
The focus, Mr Letjama added, would be on equipping the youths with entrepreneurship skills necessary for the operation of a sustainable business.
“Experience has taught us that entrepreneurship is one of the most reliable tools that can offer long-term benefits and our aim is to equip the youth with skills and mentorship programmes that would steer their minds in the right direction.
“The youths need training so that they can cope with the ever-changing world of business,” Mr Letjama said.
The MoU seeks to produce young Basotho who do not fear failure, and are not lacking in resources and skills, he added.
On his part, BEDCO Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Robert Likhang, urged government to contribute towards strengthening organisations which supplement efforts to create a conducive environment to develop the youth economically.
Mr Likhang also urged government to constantly engage the private sector for the overall development of the country’s economy.
“In many countries, the private sector has proved capable of leading economic growth, so government alone, cannot overcome the challenge of a shrinking economy. That is why it is necessary to engage the private sector to ensure economic development.
“Our government can no longer employ the youths who, despite being the most productive, are aimlessly roaming the streets.
“However, organisations such as ours are here to convert those minds into ideas that would crystallise,” he said.
Standard Lesotho Bank Head of Business Banking, Lucy Mohapi also reiterated the objective of the MoU, adding unlike most business proposals that usually require surety, the financial institution was prepared to bypass making collateral a requirement before accessing the funding.
Ms Mohapi further explained the bank was not only going to contribute financially but would also impart expertise that is going to be instrumental in changing lives for the better.