MASERU — Maluti Mountain Brewery (MMB) has set aside M500 000 to provide capital for youth aged between 18 and 35 years to start small to medium businesses.
The MMB Project Kickstart was launched in Maseru on Thursday.
The project also targets youth who already own small businesses for five years or less.
The MMB Project Kickstart will select 20 deserving youth from around the country who will undergo an intensive training on business skills.
They will compete for their business ideas to be awarded funding up to a maximum M100 000.
The winners will be mentored and coached to ensure that their business ventures thrive and prosper.
Speaking at the launch, the MMB Managing Director Tom Mpedi said one of the biggest challenges facing the country is the need to better citizens’ lives by decreasing the rate of poverty as highlighted in the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) 2012-3/2016-7.
“The NSDP highlights creating employment as essential to reducing poverty and social vulnerability. The Kickstart project is MMB’s way of heeding this call,” Mpedi said.
“We have invested half a million in this project to do our bit in accelerating youth entrepreneurship in Lesotho” he added.
MMB Corporate Affairs Director and one of the project’s adjudication panel members, Mosuoe Mapetla, said the company is thrilled to launch Project Kickstart as not only a means of addressing the social scourge of youth unemployment but also aiming at instilling an entrepreneurial spirit in youth in Lesotho.
“Project Kickstart will also serve to boost the level of entrepreneurship in the country because even though overall winners will be selected, there will still be a host of young entrepreneurs who would have benefitted from business skills training which will come in handy in developing their business ideas” Mapetla said.
He said the adjudication panel will screen and evaluate applications from the youth and then select the top 20 applicants to attend a 10-day business skills training programme.
The youth will among other things learn how to write a business plan and the basics of starting up and running a business enterprise.
“Winning applicants will not receive a cash prize, rather towards the cost of starting up or expanding the business” Mapetla cautioned.
Applications will be judged on originality of the business idea, viability, potential employment opportunities it can create as well as applicant’s passion, devotion and understanding of the proposed business idea.
Selected winners will also receive post-award coaching and mentoring for a period of six months to ensure sustainable success of their enterprises.
The best performing enterprise will be awarded business of the year at the Kickstart Awards Gala Dinner early next year.
On behalf of SABMiller Africa, Larona Makgoeng commended MMB for demonstrating leadership as a corporate citizen and for looking beyond the scope of business and finding ways to impact society.
“The Project Kickstart initiative is a brilliant idea that MMB should be applauded for. Hopefully the society and media will come on board and make this initiative a success” Makgoeng said.
Asked what he would expect from the applicants, one of the adjudication panel members Khauhelo Ramakongoana who also heads small to medium enterprises (SME) banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, said over and above the set selection criteria he would be looking for authenticity, innovation and creativity in the business ideas.
“Some proposals are meant to impress judges or investors without the applicant having a good understanding of the type of business they are proposing and whether it is implementable,” Ramakongoana said.