Youth en­ter­prise project gets un­der­way

Lesotho Times - - Business - Bereng Mpaki

THE third and fi­nal in­stal­ment of the Bacha En­trepreneur­ship Project (BEP) has been launched amid calls for young peo­ple to get out of their com­fort zones and come up with in­no­va­tive ideas.

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

It tar­gets grad­u­ates be­tween the ages of 21 and 35, with an in­ter­est in op­er­at­ing their own busi­nesses. Pro­pos­als are also ac­cepted from qual­i­fy­ing grad­u­ates who need fund­ing to ex­pand or start-up their en­ter­prises.

In her re­marks dur­ing the launch cer­e­mony on Tues­day, BEDCO Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Dr Makatleho Mata­booe urged young peo­ple to take charge of their fu­ture and not de­pend on the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide them with jobs.

“In as much as it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the gov­ern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor to sup­port youths, it is equally im­por­tant that young peo­ple come up with in­no­va­tive ideas, so they can be­come en­trepreneurs,” she said.

“Young peo­ple need to make de­ci­sive steps in de­ter­min­ing their own des­tiny, and they can­not achieve that if they don’t make con­certed ef­forts.

“It is high time that youths come out of their com­fort zones of ex­pect­ing the gov­ern­ment to al­ways pro­vide for them. We wish to see our youth com­ing up with in­no­va­tive ideas, hence the BEP.”

Dr Mata­booe in­di­cated that once the third phase of the project was com­pleted, it would be eval­u­ated and re­viewed to chart the way for­ward.

She said the re­sponses by young un­em­ployed grad­u­ates in the pre­vi­ous edi­tions had been lack­lus­tre.

“Our ex­pe­ri­ence in the pre­vi­ous edi­tions is that re­sponses have not been as many as ex­pected in spite of wide calls made through var­i­ous me­dia. We hope that in the third edi­tion our youths will par­tic­i­pate in their num­bers to en­sure the de­vel­op­ment of Le­sotho’s econ­omy that will be recog­nised re­gion­ally and even­tu­ally glob­ally.”

SLB Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Mpho Vum­bukani told the Le­sotho Times on the side-lines of the launch cer­e­mony that the pre­vi­ous two phases of the project had cre­ated much-needed jobs for young peo­ple.

He said the project had also ig­nited an en­trepreneur­ship pas­sion, which in turn would lead to the build­ing of a vi­brant pri­vate sec­tor which is the en­gine of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment for any coun­try.

“As far as we are con­cerned, we are see­ing en­cour­ag­ing signs from the project so far,” Mr Vum­bukani said.

“Of course we are go­ing to eval­u­ate the project, but we are happy with how it has changed the lives of some of our pre­vi­ous win­ners. Such sto­ries are en­cour­ag­ing.”

One of the win­ners of the first phase of the BEP in 2015, Te­boho Moekoa from Kemet De­signs, said he had man­aged to in­crease the num­ber of em­ploy­ees from two to seven due to the sup­port of the project.

Kemet De­signs and Creations, which was awarded M174 000, spe­cialises in hand­crafted tex­tile de­signs in­spired by lo­cal and African cloth­ing.

“We man­aged to buy some in­dus­trial tex­tile ma­chines and to em­ploy more peo­ple in the busi­ness with the funds from the project,” Mr Moekoa said.

“The other ben­e­fit of the project is that we now have clients that we would oth­er­wise not have with­out it.”

He said some of the com­pany’s new clients in­cluded the royal fam­ily, two lo­cal di­a­mond mines and even the BEP cus­to­di­ans. Mr Moekoa said they had also re­lo­cated from home to a com­mer­cial premises in light of the com­pany’s growth.

Phase two ben­e­fi­ciary, Lisemelo Le­bina, from Star Farm­ers said they were ex­pand­ing their in­door mush­rooms pro­duc­tion en­ter­prise with the funds from the project.

Star Farm­ers, an agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion en­ter­prise pro­duc­ing mush­rooms for the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try, walked away with M159 850 last year.

Ms Le­bina said they were cur­rently await­ing the in­stal­la­tion of elec­tric­ity at their fa­cil­ity to op­er­ate air con­di­tion­ers and hu­mid­i­fiers. She also in­di­cated that they ini­tially en­coun­tered a num­ber of chal­lenges re­lated to reg­is­ter­ing their com­pany which de­layed their progress.

“We started out with oys­ter mush­rooms which we used to ob­tain from the Masianokeng spawn­ing cen­tre. Now we are mov­ing to pro­duc­ing white but­ton mush­rooms since we have al­ready se­cured a mar­ket which re­quires 20kg per day,” she said.

SLB Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Mpho Vum­bukani.

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