Min­istry lob­bies for women, youth quo­tas

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

It is my dream to see many firms owned and run by Ba­sotho and you are tak­ing a step in the right di­rec­tion and I am proud of you

GEN­DER, Youth, Sports and Re­cre­ation Min­is­ter Mathi­beli Mokhothu has called on cab­i­net to amend the pro­cure­ment pol­icy to give women and youth a 10 per­cent ad­van­tage over es­tab­lished busi­nesses in the pro­cure­ment process.

Mr Mokhothu said this was nec­es­sary to en­sure the prof­itabil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity of fledg­ling busi­nesses.

The min­is­ter said this dur­ing a tour of the youth-owned Jo­hane Gar­ments firm in Maseru this week.

“As min­is­ter of gen­der and youth, my main in­ter­est in the on­go­ing process is to en­sure that the amended pol­icy has a quota giv­ing youth and women an added ad­van­tage in ac­cess­ing govern­ment busi­nesses,” he said.

He said he was also ne­go­ti­at­ing with dif­fer­ent govern­ment min­istries to give youth-owned busi­nesses first pref­er­ence when award­ing ten­ders.

“Even in this con­tro­ver­sial fleet ten­der, I still want the youth to have a stake in it and once awarded such ten­ders, we will write a let­ter of com­mit­ment for them (youth) so they can ac­cess fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from the com­mer­cial banks,” he said.

Jo­hane Gar­ments was es­tab­lished in 2013 by six youths and the firm is among those that re­ceived as­sis­tance from the min­istry in the last fi­nan­cial year to ac­quire sewing ma­chines worth M471 000.

The min­istry also sec­onded an ac­coun­tant, graphic de­signer and mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer to en­sure the busi­ness re­mained afloat. The com­pany has 30 em­ploy­ees.

Since then, the firm has se­cured lo­cal as well as cus­tomers in neigh­bour­ing South Africa.

The min­is­ter’s visit came soon af­ter the firm scored a huge busi­ness deal with South African firm Talia Man­age­ment Ser­vices Se­cu­rity to sup­ply them with 470 jack­ets.

“I am also happy that you are now com­pet­ing with big busi­nesses in South Africa and I want you to take this or­der as a step­ping stone to greater things,” Min­is­ter Mokhothu said.

“This is how things are done when peo­ple are de­ter­mined to make some­thing for them­selves. We will con­tinue to sup­port you in build­ing your own busi­ness pro­file,” Mr Mokhothu said.

He said the six were a good ex­am­ple of cit­i­zens who had gone on to open their own busi­nesses and cre­ated em­ploy­ment in­stead of sim­ply ac­cus­ing govern­ment of fail­ing to cre­ate jobs.

“It is my dream to see many firms owned and run by Ba­sotho and you are tak­ing a step in the right di­rec­tion and I am proud of you,” he said.

For his part, Jo­hane Gar­ments Man­ag­ing Direc­tor Tšepo Jo­hane said start­ing the busi­ness was not easy and at some point the firm even col­lapsed.

“It was a bumpy road and we ex­pe­ri­enced our fair share of prob­lems, Mr Jo­hane said, adding, “we had only 16 sewing ma­chines and we have been do­ing rel­a­tively well ever since govern­ment gave us 30 more”.

He also said the Trade and In­dus­try Min­istry and the Le­sotho Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (LNDC) had also played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the busi­ness’s suc­cess. Jo­hane Gar­ments is housed at the Trade and In­dus­try Min­istry in­dus­trial area.

“Be­sides hous­ing us, they took us to a South African ex­hi­bi­tion and peo­ple loved our prod­ucts, re­sult­ing in this big or­der we are pro­cess­ing to­day,” Mr Jo­hane said.

He added: “The busi­ness is grow­ing so fast that we are even con­sid­er­ing en­gag­ing an­other 30 em­ploy­ees for night shifts to en­sure that we meet our tar­gets and make our cus­tomers happy.”

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