Consultant to help revive cooperatives
THE Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing has engaged a United Kingdom-based consultant as part of efforts to revive ailing youth cooperatives which are seen as critical in addressing unemployment.
The Welsh consultant, Nicola Mehegan, is in the country for two months and will work with the Lesotho Youth Cooperative Alliance (LYCA) — which supports its affiliates through training opportunities, product development and marketing among others. LYCA has 17 primary youth cooperative societies under its purview.
Wales has a thriving cooperative movement which contributes significantly to the Europe- an nation’s economic development.
Ms Mehegan, who works at the Wales Cooperative Centre, told the Lesotho Times this week she intends to raise awareness among pupils and teachers on the importance of cooperative societies in schools.
“I will work with LYCA on a number of objectives that include strengthening the alliance by identifying their training needs and then developing programmes to support those requirements,” she said.
“I will also address members of LYCA. I have already met with the LYCA hierarchy and they have suggested that I deal with issues that have to do with the sustainability of cooperatives since a number of them have closed shop.”
Ms Mehegan said among the challenges she intended to tackle was the perception that cooperatives were for old people and not necessarily for youths.
“There are youths in Lesotho who can bring useful skills into cooperatives, for example that of using social media,” she said.
“A lot of work needs to be done to improve the management of cooperatives, which has been plagued by so many challenges that need to be addressed.”
On his part, LYCA President, Khombelwayo Mlotshwa, said they were looking forward to learning from Ms Mehegan, since they had experienced numerous challenges.
“We have high hopes that her visit will go a long way in equipping us with the skills needed to empower our affiliates,” Mr Mlotshwa said. “We will pass on the skills and knowl- edge we expect to get from her. “We have challenges that we hope she will help us to address before the end of her visit.”
The Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing Chief Information Officer, Retselisitsoe Sekake, also told this paper that they were fast-tracking the development of cooperative societies to help reduce the high unemployment rate among the youth.
“Our ministry is charged with the responsibility of addressing the challenge of unemployment focusing mainly on the youth,” he said.
“We are therefore examining a number of strategies among which are cooperatives. We believe these can act as a catalyst to self-reliance among youths.”