Ray of hope for small businesses
A CANADIAN business expert arrives in the country today ahead of a business seminar to train Basotho businesspeople interested in exporting to the North American country, Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing Information Officer Retšelisitsoe Sekake has said.
The expert, from the Trade Facilitation Office (TFO) Canada, is scheduled to meet trade agencies officials and business sector representatives, culminating in a seminar at the Lehakoe Recreational and Cultural Centre on Monday.
TFO Canada is a non-profit organisation established by the Canadian government to provide market access services to exporters from developing countries.
Mr Sekake said TFO Canada signed an agreement with the Canadian government to implement its five-year trade facilitation programme called “Canada Market Access and Capacity Building Service”.
He said Lesotho stood to benefit from the programme which is meant to help develop the ability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMES) and related trade-support institutions in developing countries to pursue export opportunities in Canada.
“The objective of the visit, among others, is to familiarise TFO Canada with Lesotho’s business sectors that are ready to export their products to Canada,” Mr Sekake said, adding that the textile, aloe products, handcrafts, wool and mohair sectors had been provisionally identified as potential exporters.
“Furthermore, as part of efforts to assist Lesotho’s business sector to expand, TFO Canada will, in collaboration with the government of Lesotho, organise a trade textile show in 2016 featuring Lesotho’s garment ex- porters in Canada.”
To increase the chances of accessing the Canadian market, he said, TFO would provide information services developed to link Basotho exporters with potential buyers in Canada, thereby assuring them of a market for their products.
Contacted for comment, Youth Entrepreneurs Forum President Makhetha Thaele said: “As the youth forum, we are not aware of that initiative but I think that accessing the Canadian market would result in job creation and alleviation of poverty.”
He, however, noted that Lesotho needed to put its house in order with regards to its human resource base and access to finance to ensure that such initiatives fully benefit local SMES.
“It would be foolhardy for us to rejoice over an open market while we don’t have the right skills to meet the requirements of the market,” Mr Thaele said.
“As a country, we first need to address the issue of our limited human resource base and lack of access to finance so that we are well equipped to seize this opportunity and never let it go.
“I would recommend that the relevant ministries temporarily import skilled people understudied by Basotho to ensure that we have the needed skills and ability to benefit from such projects.”
Youth Entrepreneurs Forum President thaele Makhetha.