‘We need to be part­ners in growth’

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

Ned­bank Le­sotho on Thurs­day last week held a one-day work­shop for ba­sotho busi­ness­peo­ple in the Small to Medium en­ter­prises (SME) sec­tor. The event took place at Maseru avani Ho­tel and was held in col­lab­o­ra­tion with in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed busi­ness ex­perts Raiz­corp of South africa and ba­sotho en­ter­prises de­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (bedco). Raiz­corp founder and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer (CEO), Mr Al­lon Raiz, fa­cil­i­tated the work­shop.

In this wide-rang­ing in­ter­view, Ned­bank Le­sotho Mar­ket­ing Man­ager ’Mampine Ra­batho, speaks with Le­sotho Times ( LT) reporter Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane about the work­shop and other re­lated de­vel­op­ments the bank is en­gaged in.

LT: Could you please tell us more about last week’s work­shop you or­gan­ised for lo­cal en­trepreneurs?

Ra­batho: We were at Maseru avani on 12 Novem­ber where we had in­vited small to medium busi­ness­peo­ple to meet with pro­found busi­ness ex­pert, Al­lon Raiz. Raiz is re­garded both lo­cally and glob­ally as a pi­o­neer and mav­er­ick in the busi­ness-in­cu­ba­tion in­dus­try. He is the founder and CEO of Raiz­corp, the only pri­vately held, un­funded, prof­itable busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor on the African con­ti­nent, cur­rently sup­port­ing in ex­cess of 500 busi­nesses. Raiz is au­thor of the best­selling en­tre­pre­neur­ial books – Lose the Busi­ness Plan and What to Do When You Want to Give Up. He hosted the first na­tional ra­dio show on en­trepreneur­ship, re­al­ity TV show, and also cre­ated and pub­lished an on­go­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial car­toon strip. He is cur­rently host of his fourth sea­son of the pop­u­lar The Big Small Busi­ness Show on Busi­ness Day TV.

LT: What prompted you to or­gan­ise this event?

Ra­batho: For a long time, we had worked on the idea to bring Raiz here. We made pub­li­ca­tions to in­form, not only our clients, but the en­tire SME busi­ness com­mu­nity. Th­ese are the peo­ple who have al­ready started their own busi­nesses but we re­alised that they were stag­nant and their busi­nesses were not grow­ing as they would ex­pect. As Ned­bank, we have re­alised the chal­lenges fac­ing the busi­ness sec­tor in Le­sotho. Our peo­ple have good ideas and plans of ac­tions but they fail to im­ple­ment them.

Mostly you find that they lack skills such as hu­man re­source-man­age­ment, mar­ket­ing, fi­nan­cial-man­age­ment or any other as­pect re­quired in the busi­ness in­dus­try. Of­ten we re­alise this lack of skills as they come for ser­vices at the bank. Be­cause of that, they of­ten fail to meet the re­quire­ments for some of our ser­vices ren­dered to boost their busi­nesses. So we thought it was best we in­vite them for this work­shop so we could give them some ba­sics on how to prop­erly man­age their busi­nesses.

LT: So what ex­actly were the par­tic­i­pants taught?

Ra­batho: The crux of the work­shop, as Raiz put it to the par­tic­i­pants, was to ad­dress the gen­eral chal­lenges the busi­ness sec­tor faces in the coun­try. Raiz was teach­ing the par­tic­i­pants a new way of ask­ing them­selves ques­tions. This is what he termed “shift ques­tions” so they adopt a dif­fer­ent ap­proach when look­ing at their busi­nesses. You find that we have a ten­dency of do­ing the same thing the same way over and over again, and that does not ad­dress the chal­lenges our busi­nesses en­counter.

What are you not do­ing prop­erly to grow your busi­ness? He showed them how, as peo­ple, we de­velop cer­tain un­der­stand­ings be­cause of the way we grew up in a par­tic­u­lar en­vi­ron­ment; you live and grow within that frame of life­style. This is to say you are only as broad as what you know.

LT: What were the so­lu­tions dis­cussed from the work­shop to ad­dress th­ese chal­lenges?

Ra­batho: Raiz said ‘let us use a mag­ni­fy­ing glass in a con­text dif­fer­ent from what we al­ready know and ap­plied’. Sup­pose you want to grow your busi­ness, what ex­actly are the proper steps? He said peo­ple should first learn to iden­tify key fac­tors in their busi­ness, and try to con­cen­trate on the key roles. They should learn to ap­point and del­e­gate peo­ple so that they are able to mas­ter one thing at a time. As a busi­nessper­son, you can­not be core to ev­ery as­pect of the busi­ness you run, oth­er­wise some aspects are go­ing to fail. You can only be a good CEO if you con­cen­trate on the key role for your busi­ness. Learn to ap­point and del­e­gate peo­ple. Raiz em­pha­sised the sig­nif­i­cance of go­ing back to the draw­ing board and ap­ply­ing new meth­ods of ap­proach in our busi­nesses.

LT: As a bank, are you sat­is­fied with the way the work­shop was con­ducted? Do you be­lieve it met its ob­jec­tives and was ben­e­fi­cial to the par­tic­i­pants?

Ra­batho: The work­shop was not just about pro­vid­ing feed­back. It was very in­ter­ac­tive. We had the 107-seat venue filled to ca­pac­ity. Th­ese were com­mit­ted peo­ple who sat there from 8am un­til 4:30pm when the work­shop closed. and they were very ex­cited. We con­firmed with the par­tic­i­pants that from this one-day work­shop, they could only learn one or two ma­te­rial things. They are now ex­posed to al­lon Raiz and his or­gan­i­sa­tion. It is now in their hands to so­licit in­for­ma­tion from him, which they can con­tin­u­ously learn from in fo­rums such as TV shows, web­sites and books. Our en­trepreneurs should start their busi­nesses with the aim of grow­ing. Start small and end up with a multi-fran­chise busi­ness. We should move away from stag­nant busi­nesses that do not have growth prospects. The big­gest thing that Ned­bank is try­ing to do is in­vest in our SME sec­tor.

LT: Who were your other part­ners you in­vited to the work­shop?

Ra­batho: We worked with other or­gan­i­sa­tions such as BEDCO, the Min­istry of Small Busi­ness, Co­op­er­a­tives and Mar­ket­ing and NUL (Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho). How­ever, there were no spe­cific roles played by the part­ners in this par­tic­u­lar work­shop on the ac­tual day. The work­shop was en­tirely driven by Raiz­corp. How­ever, we all fa­cil­i­tated in the plan­ning of the event and in en­sur­ing suc­cess in par­tic­i­pa­tion as well as the level of at­ten­dance.

LT: What skills could you say the par­tic­i­pants have gained from the work­shop?

Ra­batho: Raiz in­di­cated that it is not so much about aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions to run a suc­cess­ful busi­ness. The gen­eral per­cep­tion in our coun­try is that with­out qual­i­fi­ca­tions, one can­not suc­ceed in busi­ness. We have to do dif­fer­ent things. This says to us: what gaps do we see in the mar­ket? How do we take ad­van­tage of them? We should not al­low our­selves to be­lieve that be­cause there is drought in Le­sotho to­day, then that means it is the end of the coun­try. Le­sotho is si­t­u­ated next to one of the big­gest economies in Africa, South Africa. On the other hand, we have min­eral re­sources such as di­a­monds, wa­ter and oth­ers. How do we take ad­van­tage of this? do we see Le­sotho as the poor­est coun­try or a land of op­por­tu­ni­ties? do we see South africa as a bar­rier to our eco­nomic growth or a land of op­por­tu­nity as well? Why do we see peo­ple from all over the world com­ing to Le­sotho to start busi­nesses and live here? Why can’t we also see what they see as an op­por­tu­nity? I think the most im­por­tant thing Mr Raiz said was if you look at peo­ple with small com­mu­ni­ties like the Chi­nese, In­di­ans, Por­tuguese and oth­ers, liv­ing in Le­sotho, once they start up their busi­nesses here, they suc­ceed. Do you know why? It is be­cause they col­lab­o­rate. He said to them that even from this fo­rum, if you can or­gan­ise your­selves and col­lab­o­rate, your busi­nesses can eas­ily grow. We will not eas­ily suc­ceed work­ing in iso­la­tion.

LT: As Ned­bank Le­sotho, how can you de­scribe your re­la­tion­ship with the busi­ness com­mu­nity?

Ra­batho: The re­la­tion­ship is in a de­vel­op­ment phase. We are at a point where we re­ally do not want to be just pro­vid­ing and re­ject­ing the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance they re­quire. but we need to be­come their part­ner in growth. They should know that they can call their banker for ad­vice or any as­sis­tance. We should give them a to­tal pack­aged so­lu­tion to their busi­ness en­deav­ours. When busi­nesses grow, the econ­omy of the coun­try be­comes ac­tive.

LT: Apart from the work­shop that you men­tioned you held for the busi­ness­peo­ple ear­lier this year, are there any other train­ings you might have or­gan­ised?

Ra­batho: Fo­cused on the SMES, it was only those two work­shops that we held. bill Gib­son, who is also from South Africa, fa­cil­i­tated the work­shop in May this year. Gib­son was not re­ally fo­cus­ing on the strate­gic ap­proach like Raiz was. Gib­son was more fo­cused on day-to-day cus­tomer ser­vice ap­pre­ci­a­tion and how to in­crease your client base; how to take them from your com­peti­tors. but like we said, we have started to es­tab­lish a root of in­vest­ment in this par­tic­u­lar sec­tor. So in 2016, there are def­i­nitely go­ing to be some more ad­vanced ini­tia­tives.

LT: We have a large num­ber of peo­ple do­ing their mi­cro-busi­nesses in the streets. As Ned­bank, do you have a spe­cific role or re­la­tion­ship to as­sist them?

Ra­batho: We do as­sist them where we can. but most of those busi­nesses are not put as for­mal en­ti­ties. The own­ers come to the bank as in­di­vid­u­als and retail clients, not as an SME client. The ser­vices there­fore dif­fer.

LT: With the train­ings that you have al­ready or­gan­ised for the SMES, do you see your­self achiev­ing what you re­ally want to achieve as a bank?

Ra­batho: Hon­estly, it is not some­thing that we can mea­sure at the mo­ment. We are sim­ply say­ing for now, we are in­vest­ing. We are not ex­pect­ing to see di­rect re­sults now. But to us, this is a win be­cause even from the work­shop, some of the par­tic­i­pants who are not our clients at the mo­ment, in­di­cated they were will­ing to open ac­counts with us very soon be­cause they now un­der­stood what Ned­bank wants to achieve. but the big­gest win will be to see growth in ba­sotho’s busi­ness en­ti­ties. If they have good records of their fi­nan­cial man­age­ment, it is go­ing to be easy for us to as­sist them.

LT: Other than the work­shops, what are the other projects Ned­bank en­gages in to as­sist Ba­sotho gen­er­ally?

Ra­batho: Through the daily ser­vices that we of­fer, we are able to as­sist ev­ery ci­ti­zen of this coun­try. We have loyal clients be­cause of the ser­vices we of­fer dili­gently. We have peo­ple in our branches who are trained and have vested in­ter­est in clients’ busi­nesses. They ac­tu­ally guide the clients for bet­ter busi­ness prospects.

Busi­ness ex­pert Al­lon Raiz from sa fa­cil­i­tates the work­shop for Ba­sotho busi­ness­peo­ple at Maseru Avani.

ned­bank Mar­ket­ing Man­ager 'Mampine Ra­batho.

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