Minister pledges M10m for vendors
INFORMAL traders are set to benefit from a M10 million budgetary allocation from government to assist the growth of their small businesses, a cabinet minister has revealed.
Small Businesses, Cooperatives and Marketing Minister, Chalane Phori made the revelations while officiating at a recent ceremony to hand over new stalls to vendors at Sefika Bus Stop area in Maseru.
Six stalls were gutted by fire in a development that destroyed goods and left the owners stranded last month.
Afro Asia Engineering, a company responded to Mr Phori’s appeal for assistance and built new stalls which reportedly cost M100 000.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Mr Phori said the gesture was part of the ministry’s efforts to assist small businesses to develop into bigger concerns.
“When I heard about what had happened, I felt I needed to help so I spoke to other businesses to offer a helping hand to those that were affected by the fire,” Mr Phori said.
He said his ministry was aware of the fact that many Basotho lacked access to finance to start businesses, space to operate from as well as entrepreneurial skills. “It is the ministry’s duty to see to it that Basotho overcome such challenges hence we will make a requisition for M10 million to help small businesses across the country.
“This requisition will be made yearly so that the whole country is assisted,” he said.
For his part, Afro Asia Engineering a representative, Wilson Lee said it took them a week to manufacture and install the shelters which cost a total of M100 000.
“As long as the People’s Republic of China works hand in hand with Lesotho, we will develop a better country,” Mr Lee said.
Meanwhile, a representative of the informal traders, Tšolo Lebitsa expressed gratitude for the intervention to provide new stalls after the fire outbreak.
Mr Lebitsa said while it was not the first time informal traders have experienced fire which destroyed their property, it was refreshing to see government intervening in their plight.
“We are grateful for the shelters but at the same time we plead with government to go further and help us ensure our markets meet hygienic standards so that people feel safe to eat the food we sell to them,” Mr Lebitsa said.
Small Businesses, Cooperatives and makerting minister Chalane Phori (centre left) and afro asia Engineering representatives at the handover ceremony.