Big move for street vendor

Big move for street vendor

MASERU – From conducting business next to a stream of sewage, Manthabeleng Leuta is moving into a proper building in what she described as a big move for her venture.
The street vendor was in tears of joy last Tuesday when Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) handed over a building from where she will now run her business.
Leuta sold snacks, sweets and fruits next to the ETL main gate under a pine tree.
Street vendors in Lesotho account for a large number of the population, especially in urban areas where unemployment is rife.

Leuta is among many Basotho women and men fighting poverty and unemployment by embarking on self-help ventures such as vending.
Thanks to ETL, some of them now feel empowered.
Through street vending, Leuta has been able to pay school fees for her three children who are still in Primary School.
And after the death of her husband in 2017, she had to fight against all odds to put bread on the table.
Leuta started her businesses together with her husband in 2010 next to the Econet main gate.
The business was partly surrounded by bushes and pine trees in a small culvert next to the main road.
Behind the stoep where she puts her stock, there is a stream of sewerage running.

Leuta said nine years ago, they realised they were struggling financially in the family.
She decided to seek a formal job and got a three-month part time job that enabled her to finance her idea of opening up a small business.
Leuta said the conditions at her site were so filthy and unhealthy that she would arrive as early as 6 am to clean the place.
“It is challenging to work in an open space. When it is raining, I had to sit under the umbrella and cover myself with plastic,” Leuta said.
Freezing weather conditions also posed a serious threat to Leuta.
She said the money she generated from her vending business “is good” despite the challenges of working in an open place.

“Being self-employed is far better than working as an employee,’’ she said.
She said her wish is that the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) and Maseru City Council (MCC) could improve sanitation in the city to assist vendors.
ETL Chief Executive Officer Dennis Plaatjies commended Leuta for her work ethic.
He said in spite of harsh weather through different seasons of the year, Leuta soldiered on to sustain her business and sell goodies to ETL staff.
He said they sat down and discussed how to utilise a building next to the company’s main gate.

Plaatjies said they decided to take Leuta out of the culvert where the sewerage pipes leak frequently to a comfortable place.
Now ETL is also going to help her boost her business.
The building, Plaatjies said, will have free electricity with big shelves and tiled floors.
“We are also going to help her to offer Ecocash services,” he said.
He said as part of the drive to empower struggling, informal small businesses, the company has in the past offered Econet umbrellas to the street vendors.

Refiloe Mpobole


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