MASERU — Lesotho will next month host a five-day forum aimed at enhancing the spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth.
The forum will be held under the theme “Promoting sustainable entrepreneurship through youth co-operatives”.
Youths from Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Uganda and the United Kingdom are expected to attend the December 14-18 meeting.
A senior officer in the Ministry of Industry, Co-operatives and Marketing, ‘Malerato Siee, said the main purpose of the forum was to revive and encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth in Lesotho.
She said co-operatives can provide critical training necessary in the running of businesses.
“Generally co-operatives can provide good business skills which are important for business development,” Siee said.
She said the spirit of entrepreneurship was already high among the youth in Lesotho.
She said scores of youths were involved in running lucrative co-operatives around the country.
“We have seen some young people in co-operatives and students in high schools who are involved in different projects such as tourism, catering and poultry production,” Siee said.
She said the forum will see exhibitions by the youth in Lesotho as well as from their counterparts from the participating countries.
She said the youth are expected to display handicrafts and clothing ware.
“Youth in co-operatives and students from institutions in the country, including high schools, will participate at the forum,” said Siee.
“We currently have over 10 co-operatives around the country involved in various projects.
“All these are run by the youth, which is what we are encouraging.”
Siee said the youths were currently involved in commercial agricultural projects such as fish and poultry production, tourism, catering and accounting ventures.
She said youth-run co-operatives were however facing major challenges that threatened the viability of their projects.
Among the problems the co-operatives were facing were the failure to keep good financial records and the general unwillingness to pay debts by members of co-operatives.
“Some members within co-operatives normally do not attend training offered by the department (of co-operatives),” she said.
According to Siee, the department of co-operatives regularly provides training in management, bookkeeping and accounts to ensure that co-operatives are run and administered efficiently.
The department also provides auditing services for any co-operatives that are registered with the ministry.
“We also give them advice on business practices and how to handle disputes,” said Siee.
“Whenever necessary we help bridge the gap between the banks and co-operatives by ensuring that co-operatives pay their loans through monitoring of the co-operatives.”