Matete’s midas touch

Matete’s midas touch

ROMA – NKAU Matete, the former Metropolitan Lesotho Managing Director, played a significant role in the advancement of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub.
Matete and Metropolitan Lesotho have been central to the evolution of the hub over the past ten years. Without them, the hub could not be where it is today.
Matete was one of the first local business leaders to embrace the idea and commit to supporting it. When the chips were down he was always there to help out.
He understood earlier on that the future of Lesotho’s economy will be defined by the ideas of the young people.

“When I provide funding, nothing encourages me more than seeing progress when I come back,” Matete used to say.
“I don’t want to keep funding the same thing.”  Thus far the hub has not disappointed him as it continues to nurture entrepreneurs, some of whom are on the verge of venturing out on their own.
“Two routes diverged in a wood and I took the one less travelled by, and it made all the difference,” Robert Frost once said.
Matete has taken the less travelled road with the hub and the young people who have dared to dream of turning their business ideas into reality.
Nearly 20 businesses are being incubated under the hub and more are coming.

The innovation hub has never been about inventing self-driving cars within fancy (and futuristic) buildings.
It is about giving young people a platform to test and refine their business ideas.
That platform has never been there in Lesotho. Often young people give up on their ideas because they don’t have the necessary equipment, mentorship and training to transform them into viable businesses.
Instead of helping we accuse them of being lazy and whining.

We have the audacity to call them “jobseekers” even when we don’t do anything to help them start their own businesses.
The hub seeks to change that.  And Matete, Metropolitan Lesotho and the NUL management have been at the core efforts to change this narrative that our young people are good-for-nothing spoilt brats who are forever complaining about the lack of jobs.

“We have invested in many things, but for us to invest in businesses that are this innovative and dynamic is deeply gratifying,” Matete said.
Metropolitan Lesotho initially gave a staggering M1 million to the hub.
With another M2 million from NUL, the hub had an initial capital of M3 million.

The result is the incubation of companies like Mohalalitoe Natural Soap, Bohlale Biscuits, Phula Poultry Products, Mafika Stones, Pius IV Egg Incubators, Pitsa Manufacturing Pot, C-Mat Waste,
Paper Furniture, Sebatso Dairy Products, Sorghum Choice Muesli and intriguing Software Services, Khuisa Baby Foods and Tloutle Textiles.
One product that caught Matete’s attention is Sebabatso Yogurt.

Thanks to more capital from Metropolitan Lesotho, Sebabatso is now a household name in Maseru. The company has since diversified into fresh and sour milk.
All in all, Metropolitan Lesotho poured more than M 2.5 million maloti into the hub. That money has proven to be a game changer.
NUL innovation is now on another level.

Matete may have left Metropolitan Lesotho, but history will judge him favourably for the role he played while he was there.
The money has been used to fund businesses being housed in buildings that used to be a laundry room and a book store.

In the next few weeks, we will tell you stories of how other people have helped the innovation hub to be where it is now. They include the Lesotho Funeral Services’ Katiso Sello who also invested millions in a research project that will transform the way Lesotho sees its natural stones and rocks.
Much will also be said about the contribution of the Lesotho National Development Corporation’s Mohato Seleke and many others who have been there from the beginning and those who have travelled the journey with the hub.
The exciting story continues….

Own Correspondent

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