Bacha En­trepreneur­ship Project re­turns

Lesotho Times - - Business - Bereng Mpaki

THE sec­ond edi­tion of the Bacha En­trepreneur­ship Project was launched this week, with 25 ap­pli­cants re­ceiv­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial train­ing at the Ba­sotho En­ter­prises De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (BEDCO) premises in Maseru.

The an­nual project, which was ini­ti­ated by BEDCO, Stan­dard Le­sotho Bank (SLB) and Le­sotho Rev­enue Author­ity (LRA) seeks to tackle youth un­em­ploy­ment by ca­pac­i­tat­ing them with en­trepreneur­ship skills.

Ac­cord­ing to BEDCO’S Prin­ci­pal Con­sul­tant, Abiele Mashale, the project tar­gets young un­em­ployed grad­u­ates be­tween the ages of 21 and 35 with a view to mak­ing them en­trepreneurs and driv­ers of eco­nomic growth.

Fol­low­ing a call for the sub­mis­sion of busi­ness pro­pos­als ear­lier this year, which elicited 58 en­tries, 25 ap­pli­cants were short­listed af­ter un­der­go­ing a screen­ing process by a panel of judges from the three or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Af­ter com­plet­ing the two-week en­tre­pre­neur­ial train­ing pro­gramme, which be­gan on Mon­day, the short­listed can­di­dates will be af­forded an­other chance to fine­tune and re­sub­mit their pro­pos­als for fi­nal selec­tion.

The ad­ju­di­ca­tion panel will then se­lect the three win­ning pro­pos­als which would be el­i­gi­ble for the com­bined start-up cap­i­tal of M500 000 to ex­e­cute the pro­pos­als.

One of the trainees, ‘Ma­ma­rabe Sello, told the Le­sotho Times she was con­fi­dent of do­ing well in the project hav­ing al­ready been equipped with busi­ness skills as an en­trepreneur­ship grad­u­ate from Limkok­wing Univer­sity of Cre­ative Tech­nol­ogy.

“I feel very honoured and lucky to be counted among the 25 youths who are un­der­go­ing busi­ness train­ing. The fact that I have made it this far among many other hope­fuls is an in­di­ca­tion that I have some­thing unique,” said Ms Sello.

“I am con­fi­dent of my chances go­ing for­ward as the train­ing we are re­ceiv­ing is go­ing to raise my en­trepreneur­ship skills to a higher level.”

The aspir­ing entrepreneur said she en­rolled in the project to get fund­ing for her busi­ness idea.

“I saw it as per­fect plat­form to fi­nally re­alise my dream of be­ing a busi­ness­woman who can con­trib­ute to the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of my coun­try through hir­ing other peo­ple,” she said.

An­other trainee who made the cut, Lebesa Leotlela, said the project was his last hope of get­ting his busi­ness off the ground af­ter fund­ing con­straints.

“Together with my busi­ness part­ner, we are work­ing on get­ting our busi­ness called Mole Con­sul­tancy off the ground, but it has not been easy as we could not raise the nec­es­sary fund­ing. So we hope this project is go­ing to help us in that re­gard,” Mr Leotlela, who is a Bach­e­lor of Arts Eco­nomics (Sta- tis­tics) grad­u­ate from the Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho, said.

Tšosane Le­bina is get­ting a sec­ond bite of the cherry af­ter los­ing out at the top five stage in last year’s edi­tion.

“Los­ing out last year in the top five stage has been a painful les­son which I hope to rec­tify this time around. I now know where my ar­eas of weak­ness were,” he said.

“I am con­fi­dent that I will be able to ful­fil my dream of start­ing a mush­room project through the sup­port of the Bacha En­trepreneur­ship Project.”

BEDCO’S Se­nior Busi­ness Con­sul­tant ‘Mako­roloso Lekhesa told this pa­per the idea be­hind the twoweek en­tre­pre­neur­ial train­ing was to as­sist the can­di­dates in mould­ing their “rough” busi­ness pro­pos­als into proper busi­ness mod­els that merit fund­ing.

“Some of the busi­ness pro­pos­als we re­ceived were not prop­erly done and some of them did not demon­strate any mar­ket re­search, which is im­por­tant for de­ter­min­ing the mar­ket for their prod­ucts. Oth­ers did not have clear pro­duc­tion and financial pro­jec­tions,” she said.

“The en­trepreneur­ship train­ing

they are un­der­go­ing is meant to help them to come up with proper pro­pos­als that can be ac­cepted by financial in­sti­tu­tions.”

Ms Lekhesa also noted that this year’s pro­pos­als were both fewer in num­ber and not match­ing last year’s level of in­no­va­tion and creativity.

Ad­dress­ing the trainees, SLB’S Mar­ket­ing, Pub­lic Re­la­tions, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions & Spon­sor­ships Man­ager Many­athela Kheleli said the 22 can­di­dates who would not make the top three would be in­cor­po­rated into BEDCO’S in­cu­ba­tion pro­gramme for fur­ther de­vel­op­ment.

He also spoke of the need to re­vise the en­ter­prise li­cens­ing regime in the coun­try as it did not ac­com­mo­date the registration of some in­no­va­tive en­ter­prises that were cre­ated by the youths.

“Some of our youths come up with bril­liant and in­no­va­tive busi­ness ideas that are cur­rently not im­ple­mentable in the coun­try due to lack of a sup­port­ing li­cens­ing sys­tem. As a re­sult, this delays the com­mence­ment of such busi­nesses,” Mr Kheleli said.

In her re­marks, LRA Pub­lic and Media Re­la­tions Spe­cial­ist, Tšepang Mncina, said it was im­por­tant for the tax author­ity to con­trib­ute to­wards the es­tab­lish­ment of sus­tain­able busi­nesses in or­der to ex­pand the rev­enue pool.

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