From Nigeria with love

From Nigeria with love

…..Group moves to support youths to venture into business…..

MASERU – A local firm of business consultants, The Seed Student Support Centre, is aiming to help reduce youth unemployment.
Lesotho’s unemployment rate stands at 27.25 percent, according to tradingeconomics.com, and many blame an education system that does not promote self-employment.
The government keeps on pumping a lot of money to sponsor tertiary students.
The number of graduates keeps on increasing each year without a corresponding number of jobs being created to absorb those graduates.
In most cases, the mentality of the students is to be job seekers and not job creators.
Hence, The Seed Student Support Center (The Seed) has moved in to change such a mentality.

The Seed was established in 2015 by Christian Okweku from Nigeria, who has stayed in Lesotho for more than 20 years.
The centre was established in South Africa as a youth development project to assist students to register with UNISA.
Okweku said before going to South Africa, he was running a project in Lesotho where he was assisting high school students with computer studies and donating computers to high schools.
“We bought 20 computers for more than five schools,’’ he said.
After five years, he went to South Africa where he established the Seed Support Centre and through the government funding which he got, he trained 1 000 entrepreneurs and he visited 50 schools conducting training programmes.
“In 2015, I ventured into this business in Lesotho with ’Makhalalelo Fako who is my sister-in-law,’’ he said

Fako is a teacher by profession but due to the unemployment crisis, she opened up a beauty salon which specializes in nails and eye lashes, and offers training to interested individuals.
“Considering that she is already engaged in the entrepreneurship training, I called her so that we could work together to improve entrepreneurship skills in Lesotho,’’ Okweku said.
He said in 2018 the new brand of The Seed started its operations with the aim of opening up the minds of the Lesotho youth.
“Having certificates is not just acquiring a paper but that certificate is a skill,’’ he argued.

Okweku indicated that The Seed is helping Basotho to register with UNISA and offers supplementary classes to students who are struggling with their studies since he is also a teacher by profession.
He said they also help businesses with advice and provide skills to people who are willing to start businesses.
“Businesses are vital for the economy of the country. Small businesses help the economy to grow and create jobs,’’ he said.
He said they have met with Deputy Director of Education, Rantsi Majara, and the Deputy Principal Secretary of Social Development to work together on the campaign.
“We are helping youth entrepreneurs to start their own businesses because we believe if youths could be provided with skills, emigration of young people to South Africa could cease,’’ Okweku said.
He said the government is trying to implement projects through youths but most of them fail because there is lack of entrepreneurship skills amongst the youths.

He argued that if the youths are well equipped with business skills, “whenever the government implements the projects such projects could be sustainable’’.
Okweku said the biggest challenge is a lack of an appreciation for entrepreneurship skills in running projects and businesses.
But we are running seminars for children and parents so that the parents can understand and support their children in acquiring those skills, he said.
He said the young generation is very motivated and vibrant. That makes it easy for them to work with youths.
He said they also have ideas of what they want to do in business.

Okweku revealed that since they started the operation three months ago, they have trained two Limkokwing University of Creative Technology students who are already in business.
He said they have also trained 35 students who have not yet started their businesses, adding that there are over 75 youths who have attended their workshops.
“We are very passionate about the youth,’’ he said.
Okweku said they have a lot of programmes coming up, including the programmes where they would provide street kids with entrepreneurship training.
“As a company we want to show that it is good to give back to the community,” he said.
He said if the community is happy, more people would come and use up their services.

Okweku said their next seminar will be on the 30th March 2019 where they are going to offer five scholarships to students.
He said their aim is not to make money but to develop skills for youths.
He said the fees they are charging are merely meant to sustain the business because they have realised that most people are willing to venture into businesses but are lacking skills and have financial problems.

Okweku said in the coming year, they are not only eyeing to assist many people with entrepreneurial skills but they also want to see the business booming.
They also are looking at helping retiring people.
He said when most people retire, they receive a huge lump sum which they just blow on things which are not sustainable.
He said the business generates revenue through the holding of seminars and the charging of consultancy fees. They also assist with the writing of business proposals and plans.

Okweku said they want to help change lives of Basotho so they do not rely on looking for employment.
He said their driving motto is: Blessed is the hand that gives.
He said his business had also taught him important lessons like how to relate to other cultures and how people think which has made him a better person.

Mokhobo Mongali, a student from Limkokwing, says she is among who have benefited from Okweku’s mentorship.
She says she is now running a small nail polishing business.
“I was just doing nails for pleasure unaware that I could generate a lot of money,” she says.
She says as a student she would do nails whenever she had customers but is now thinking of developing the skills she got into a full-fledged business.

Refiloe Mpobole

 

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