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Young entrepreneurs get M500k boost


Bedco CEO Rorbet Likhang
Bedco CEO Rorbet Likhang

Rethabile Pitso

THREE youth-owned businesses impressed adjudicators in the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project to walk away with M500 000 start-up capital on Thursday.

The businesses are set to split the funding among them.

The Bacha Entrepreneurship Project was a collaborative effort by the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), Standard Lesotho Bank (SLB) and Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDCO) to stem escalating youth unemployment by capacitating young people with entrepreneurship skills.

The project targeted graduates between the ages of 21 to 35, with an interest in operating their own businesses. Proposals were also accepted from qualifying graduates who needed funding to expand their start-up enterprises.

Kemet Designs and Creations, Agro Organic and Shopa Lesotho were awarded M174 698.73, M165 575.00 and M159 725.40 respectively after their business proposals were deemed the most innovative and viable among the 20 in contention.

Kemet Designs and Creations specialises in handcrafted textile designs inspired by local and African clothing. Agro Organic produces environmentally-friendly fertilisers and pesticides and Shopa Lesotho is an e-commerce company which operates a platform for both international and local buyers and sellers to exchange goods and services.

According to Kemet Designs and Creations representative, Teboho Moekoa, the company was hoping to increase production and create employment with this financial boost.

“Kemet Designs and Creations has been in business for about five years now, specialising in handcrafted man-made leather, synthetic leather and denim designs,” Mr Moekoa said.

“We buy off-cut denim material from local manufacturers and so far, we have only been designing after receiving orders from our customers but we will soon employ about six seamstresses to increase our production.

“Our designs are inspired by a combination of Afrocentrism and the aspiration to become a producer and not a consumer.”

Agro Organic representative, Lerato Lesoetsa, said the venture consisted of five members with a background in environmental sciences and chemical technology. Ms Lesoetsa further said the business mainly produces organic products such as fertiliser which does not adversely affect the environment.

“We pooled from our various areas of expertise in order to come up with adaptive measures to combat land-degradation and tackle food-insecurity,” said Ms Lesoetsa.

“We realised that agricultural production had declined due to poor soils and decided to come up with organic fertilisers that protect the soil.”

According to Ms Lesoetsa, their fertiliser contains micronutrients such as manganese and zinc.

“We make the fertiliser by feeding earthworms with decomposing food. We then use the excrement of the worms, or worm pellets, which have a high concentration of nitrogen, to make a concentrate called ‘vermi tea’ which is used as a pesticide.

“Agro Organic relies on discarded food from restaurants for its raw material hence we negotiated with some local eateries to provide us with leftovers,” Ms Lesoetsa added.

In his remarks during the handover ceremony at AVANI Maseru Hotel, BEDCO Chief Executive Officer Robert Likhang said the corporation’s partnership with the LRA and SLB was meant to support sustainable and innovative projects for poverty alleviation.

“There is a lot of innovation coming out of various areas. In the crafts sector, we have received assistance from Action Lesotho and a consultant from the United States of America who is supported by the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project,” said Mr Likhang.

“But, of course, doing business is not an easy thing. You need somebody to coach you, mentor you, monitor you and sit down with you as well as asking you to revisit your vision, and that is what BEDCO is doing with its incubation programmes.”

Mr Likhang further noted the winning trio would undergo an incubation process to ensure their businesses succeed.

“My partners at the Lesotho Revenue Authority and Standard Lesotho Bank have told me they will continue with this programme and strengthen it further and also making it an annual event,” Mr Likhang said.

“We are going to continue developing BEDCO’s incubation capacity to ensure that 10 years down the line, we have entrepreneurs coming up with products that can be sold outside this country.

“There is nothing stopping us from attaining that goal. We are equally blessed as the Americans or Indians. What we need is to believe in ourselves and say that we can make it.”


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