M700k boost for youth  projects

M700k boost for youth projects

MASERU – A youth empowerment initiative led by the government and some private sector players has released more M700 000 to some small businesses.
The money was released under Phase II of the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project, which is a collaboration between the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), Standard Lesotho Bank and Basotho Enterprise Development Cooperation (BEDCO).

The four businesses were MD Piggery, which was awarded M149 600, PASA Production, which got M173 000, Lesotho Booking got M182 400 while Wild Plant Growers was given M195 000.
’Makali Lepholisa, who was speaking on behalf of the LRA, said the disbursements highlighted the strong commitment, willingness and desire of the three partnering institutions to facilitating active economic participation by the youth.

“As the LRA, we reaffirm our support towards development initiatives. We shall continue to align ourselves with the government development priority,’’ she said.
She said the main objective of the project was to fight unemployment, especially among the youths.
“We believe that if we could fight unemployment, the problem of hunger and poverty would be addressed,” she said.
’Mahalieo Nyanguru, an official from BEDCO, said at its inception, the project was aimed at helping tertiary education graduates struggling to find jobs.
Nine projects received funding in Phase I of the project.

Nyanguru said this year, the project included Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC) graduates among beneficiaries.
She said the project had accommodated all the districts during Phase II, unlike in Phase I when only people from Maseru district were considered.
Lejone Mpotjoane, a panelist, said it was difficult to select the four best candidates.

“We are facing a huge rate of unemployment that is why we are having this number of entrepreneurs who are aiming to be funded,’’ Mpotjoane said.
He said youths can avoid getting involved in shady deals and crime by venturing into legitimate businesses.
He said they decided to change the criteria that they were employing in the past to look at the viability and sustainability of the projects.
“We realised that some of the applicants were raising business proposals which require huge amounts,’’ said Mpotjoane.

“We wanted to see the originality and ownership of the businesses so that these young entrepreneurs could fully own the project instead of doing the project for other people,’’ said Mpotjoane.
The Chief Executive Officer of BEDCO ’Makatleho Matabooe expressed worry over the high number of school leavers who were finding the going tough on the job market.
Mataboee called on young entrepreneurs to be innovative.

“Creativity is the one which brings about economic resilience in Lesotho,’’ Matoboee said.
Libuseng Visser, director of PASA Production, said the funding will help translate her ideas into practical action.
Visser said BEDCO has supported the beneficiaries with training.

The Chief Executive Officer of Standard Lesotho Bank Mpho Vumbukani said those who did not receive funding should be supported to ensure that their ideas and ventures do not collapse.
“The businesses need more of training than money because money can perish but the knowledge cannot be taken away,’’ he said.
He indicated that the bank had started a local supplier development programme to teach young entrepreneurs how to price and distribute their products.

The bank had also formed a monitoring and coaching programme after realising that many young entrepreneurs were in dire need of mentorship, said Vumbukani.
He said the bank has set aside M1.9 million to assist young entrepreneurs.
The Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Small Businesses Development, Lerata Pekane, said small businesses should be supported because they had the potential to create jobs.

Refiloe Mpobole

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