Connect with us

Local News

Bumper Econet deal unveiled



Maseru – Last Friday, Econet Telecom Lesotho and the Premier League launched the brand new Econet Premier League at a buoyant ceremony at Avani Lesotho.
Econet’s deal to sponsor the elite league is the largest in the history of Lesotho sports.
The telecommunications company has jumped on board until 2020 and will fork out M2 million in each of the next three years taking its overall backing to a grand total of M6 million.
Apart from the historic cash involved, the deal is bringing historic innovations as well.
For the first time the premiership will see features such as awards for the player and coach of the month, a designated administration team to run the league and money set aside for referees.
It is a deal that is a step in the right direction in the country’s continuing dream to professionalise its football and, in this regard, the much-maligned Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) and Premier League management deserve a pat on the back.

A landmark deal
Econet’s deal marks a return to football for the company after an eight-year absence. Econet replaces rivals Vodacom Lesotho which had been the top-flight’s sponsor since 2009.
The deal also marks an important moment for the league and Econet which, through its ‘Buddie’ product, had been Lesotho football’s main benefactor from 2002 until 2009.
The deal comes at a time when questions were beginning to circle over the prospects of local football – especially after the national team’s damaging loss to The Comoros in 2018 African Nations Championship qualifiers last month.
Those questions – the foremost of which revolved around the strength or lack thereof of the top-flight le– can now take a momentary backseat thanks to a deal that insiders say will revitalise the Premier League “from top to bottom”.

Their hope is that Econet’s influx of cash will elevate the league to new heights as sponsorships have done elsewhere in the world.
Certainly, this has been the case in the region. For example, the Botswana Premier League receives 8 million pula (M10.2 million) per year. Swaziland, meanwhile, launched a premier league sponsorship worth the equivalent of M3.1 million per year in 2014 while Namibia launched a yearly M13.5 million deal in 2013.

Through those deals Botswana, Swaziland and Namibia have managed to rapidly climb up the continent’s football ranks and although the value of Lesotho’s top-flight contract is some way from those levels, with the right administration the Econet Premier League can provide a further catalyst for the local game.
Speaking at last Friday’s launch, Premier League Management Committee chairman John Leuta acknowledged as much. Sounding excited about the future, he thanked outgoing sponsors Vodacom Lesotho and promised growth for the league.

“Without sponsors football wouldn’t be where it is today and we will be working hand in hand with the clubs, the sponsors and the fans. I want to thank the outgoing sponsors Vodacom for the vital role they played in shaping football in the league and we urge the new sponsors to work together with us in growing football in the country,” he said.
Leuta’s sentiments were echoed by LEFA president Salemane Phafane who said the journey to professionalize the domestic league began a decade ago when LEFA’s executive committee and league management met to find a way to make the goal of a professional league a reality.
Phafane praised Econet for a timely shot in the arm after the league appeared to be stagnating. Just last month, for example, clubs were up in arms over unpaid prizes but this new deal has teams rejoicing.
“A few years ago we embarked on an ambitious journey of transforming football from a purely amateur level towards professionalization but halfway through the journey one began to doubt whether the dream is too ambitious and thought they should just continue playing amateur football,” Phafane said.
“In close consultation with the league chairman (Leuta) we continued to motivate each other and we began to see light at the end of the tunnel. Econet was once again open for us, I can safely disclose this is the biggest sponsorship the Premier League and Lesotho Football Association has clinched in football,” he said.
“(Econet) could have not come at a better time. I assure you that your products will be looked after. Your name will be looked after. We are proud to be in partnership with a company that is as reputable as Econet,” he said.

Econet chief operations officer Maurice Newa presented a breakdown of how the M2 million per season will be spent.
Importantly, M1 445 000 will be rewarded to clubs according to their log positions at the end of the season. Impressively, the league winners will bag M500 000, more than double the previous M200 000 first prize amount.

This is how the prizes have been set:
Winners: M500 000
2nd: M200 000
3rd: M120 000
4th: M100 000
5th: M75 000
6th: M70 000
7th: M65 000
8th: M60 000
9th: M55 000
10th: M50 000
11th: M45 000
12th: M40 000
13th: M35 000
14th: M30 000

For the first time money has also been allocated for match officials with Econet setting aside M255 000 to pay referees and assistant referees.
Administration personnel who will look after the daily running of the league have also been added with Econet allocating M200 000 to their office while M100 000 has been set aside for end of season awards.

Players, coaches and referees set to benefit
In July, Sundawana owner Thato Nkone shed light on the difficulty of running a Premier League club. Nkone revealed he spends close to M80 000 per month in order for the Butha-Buthe club to stay afloat which illustrated how tough it is to run a team and the plight facing players.
With no television deal and meagre sponsorship it is the worst kept secret that only a few of the 14 clubs in the league are able to pay their players on a monthly basis and that many players get by on a pittance.
By increasing prize money Econet’s deal at least opens up the possibility of clubs playing their players.
There are also other exciting features for players that have been added this season such as the introduction of monthly awards that will go with a M3500 prize.
Coaches are also set to be rewarded with a coach of the month award worth M2 500.
Based on their performances, match officials will also be rewarded with a monthly best referee award to the value of M2 000.

Fans and media not left behind
Last but not least, Econet and the league have recognised the importance of fans and media – from now, game-days will see various competitions for spectators to win cool prizes and the new partnership will bestow an award for the media personality of the month throughout the season.
Econet chief executive officer Leon de Fleuriot said this Premier League sponsorship is the massive return to football the company has been looking for since it left in 2009.
He said Econet has always wanted to return to local football and was waiting for the most appropriate time.

“We have come back with a deal that is not only huge in monetary value but also enormous in benefits to football teams, players, fans and the entire management,” he said.
“We know that Basotho are fanatical about their football and we know how they celebrate in victory and show dissapointment in defeat,” de Fleuriot added.
“We also know that sometimes emotions do run high. This is the nature of football but we urge all fans not to provoke each other in the process. I wish this competition to be conducted in a positive spirit, in discipline and in fair play.”

Luciah Phahla

Continue Reading

Local News

Lesotho’s own brandy



ROMA-“Go, eat your food with rejoicing, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for already the true God has found pleasure in your works,” so says the Big Book.

Driven by that divine, Mohapi Pule has gone a step further – by coming up with a new type of brandy – to make you merry.
The brandy, Mountain Spels Brandy, will make the heart of the dying man rejoice.
“The healthy nutrients in fruits that make brandy, end up in you when you drink it,” he said.

Pule studied nutrition at the National University of Lesotho.
His brandy is made by fermenting fruits into wine. The wine is then distilled into a brandy. It carries the flavour and the aroma of the original fruits.

The story began when Pule was born in Quthing, Mphaki. He was born to a hardworking mother who brew traditional beer like no other.
“She brew beer well before I was born. She is still making it to this day,” he said.

His passion for brewing was probably “born” even before he was born. Mothers have a hidden way of passing not just their looks but their passions to their children.

As he grew up, he found that he was still intertwined with his mom’s brewing business in one way or another.
“Mostly, I am expected to fetch water for the brewing process. That, I still do to this day when I visit home,” he says.
Two decades later, Pule found himself in the Roma Valley, doing BSc in Nutrition.

“At some point, I found that I had lost purpose in life. There was not a thing that I could say, well, I was passionate about this thing or that thing.”
That situation, of course, threw him into some serious soul-searching.
It brought him back to his roots.

“During this period, I recalled that when I was younger, I used to imagine helping my mom do the packaging of the beer she was making and helping distribute it countrywide,” he said.

From a young age, the issue of subsistence business didn’t appeal to him. But that imagination came and passed. Now here he was, worried that he might not amount to anything in life.

Then, boom! An idea came!
What if he produced an alcoholic drink?

He could have thought about anything to do as a business but, lo and behold! He thought about his mother’s passion!

One of the things he loves about alcoholic beverages is that they are popular.

“I haven’t seen products as popular as alcoholic drinks,” he said.
He might be wrong or right but the reality is, the rest of the world has for generations found delight in alcoholic beverages – some to the extent of overdoing it to their injury!

“Mabele khunoana ralitlhaku thabisa lihoho. Mabele u tsoa kae e le khale re u batla re sa u thole? Ueeeena mabeeeele!” (Loosely translated beer brewed from sorghum make men happy. We’ve been looking for you from afar, you sorghum. In short, this is a praise poem for the Sesotho sorghum brew).
But then came the most difficult part. Which specific beverages should he focus on and how would he do it?

He decided that he would focus on ciders. He realised that not many people in Lesotho were making ciders.

He started experimenting at home and realized how difficult the process was. He just couldn’t get it right. To worsen matters, he also did not have the right equipment.

But like most successful innovators, he just knew that he had to start his business right away.

Pule says he then learnt about other forms of beverages: the spirits. Spirits are very high in alcohol content. Here we are talking the likes of whiskey, vodka and brandy.

He was particularly interested in vodka. He went into one NUL laboratory and, with necessary permission, began testing a number of spirits and doing a lot of research about them.

He began saving some of the money he earned from the National Manpower Development Secretariat in the form of student allowance so he could buy equipment. Saving was not easy. The subsistence money was already not that much. Having to share it with a business was asking a little too much.

But Pule was so determined that he did it, bought equipment that allowed him to develop what he thought was “vodka”.

However, after buying the equipment he immediately realised that the equipment was to make brandy not vodka.

“Now I was forced to get into brandy by chance,” he said.
It was a mistake that he has never regretted having realised that there are very few individuals who were making brandy in Lesotho.

Pule had to throw himself fully into experiments. He read books about brandy production. He even enrolled for an online course on distillation.
In the end, he began to see some light.

“I began to feel some difference in the taste of my produce,” he said. “When I shared my produce with my lecturers, they were over the moon!”
With that encouragement, Pule began packaging his brandy and is now selling it to family and friends.

“My small equipment means that I can’t produce much. However, If I were to get bigger equipment, things would be much better.”

Own Correspondent

Continue Reading

Local News

Ready-to-cook vegetables



ROMA – ’MATUMANE Matela, a National University of Lesotho (NUL)-trained nutritionist, is an example of how a nutritionist should think and act.
Matela makes and sells ready-to-cook vegetables out of produce from her own farm or produce she preferably buys from local farms.
“When I make a dish, as a nutritionist, I make choices that ensure a typical package is packed with nutrition,” Matela said.

Today, we examine an interesting story of the lady who is determined to ensure that you eat healthy despite your busy schedule.
It started with her experiences in life.
She describes herself as an extremely busy woman.
She likes getting things done.
As the busy amongst us will say, the busier you become, the less you watch your diet.
She couldn’t escape the trap!

“My busy schedule meant that I ended up eating junk and I was gaining weight,” she said.
With time, she came to her senses.
As a nutritionist, she recalled that the best way to preach was to preach by example.
So, was she preaching what she practised?
Clearly, she wasn’t.
She had to find an option to maintain the busy schedule and eat healthy at the same time.

The beautiful thing about nutrition is that the healthiest foods are the closest to us: fruits and vegetables.
Some scientists even claim that our bodies seem to be designed to thrive on fruits and vegetables.
“Have you ever wondered why looking at a ripe raw peach on a tree is mouth-watering but looking at a fat cow isn’t?” asked one scientist.
Well, whether we were designed for fruits and vegetables or not, the truth is that they are good for our bodies.
That’s what good science tells us.

And we somehow “know it” too if you have heard about anything called intuition.
So one day she found herself increasingly eating fruits and vegetables.
It’s easier to change a religion than a diet, they say.
So it is commendable that she changed her diet at all.
“The idea was to chop as much vegetables as possible and put them in a fridge so that in future, I will just pull them out and cook.”
She wasn’t proposing something new.
Who amongst us doesn’t enjoy the convenience of just pulling up chopped frozen vegetables and cooking?

Little did she know that what she was doing was putting her on a path to a brilliant business.
It took a post on a social media to achieve just that.
“I took a pic of the chopped and packaged vegetables and posted them on my social media account. The reaction was swift. I began getting questions like, “how much?””
It immediately dawned on her that she could be sitting on a great business idea, after all.

So she gave it a try and started selling.
To her surprise, people started buying.
In fact, “I get orders for my products almost on a daily basis.”
That is how interested people really are.
This to an extent that her business now gets up to four irregular employees, she included, when the demand is high.
She said her training in Agriculture, Home Economics and Nutrition has helped her to give a thought into what she was doing.

For instance, where possible, she grows her own crops and sells them as first preference.
She has grown spinach, butternut, green pepper, onion, herbs and beans.
She is also in the process of renting more fields to grow more vegetables.
Then she empowers Basotho producers by requesting them to supply.
Going for foreign produce is the last resort.
Look at her packages and you realise something.
The “7 colours” proverb comes alive.

Those seven colours (several colours actually) may have been designed to appeal to your eyes but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
The colours of vegetables mean a lot in terms of nutrition.
Each colour gives you something different.
So, the more colours in one meal, the merrier.
To drive this home, let’s go a scientific route for a second.
Red, Blue and Purple: These vegetables contain substances that are good at reducing the risk of stroke, cancer and memory problems.
White: The likes of onion or garlic may help lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and heart disease.

Orange and Yellow: Carrots immediately come to mind.
These vegetables contain substances called carotenoids which may help improve your immune system and help to improve the health of your eyes.
Basotho, it would appear, have long known a thing or two about the relationship between carrots and eyes.
Hence the famous saying, “o jele lihoete” (they ate carrots), often applied to good sportsmen or women with symbolically “good eyesight”.

Green: Green is life. Green vegetables come packed with chlorophyll, a chemical that scientists believe can boost your immune system, eliminate fungus in your body, clean your blood, lead to healthy intestines and give you boundless energy.
As a bonus, her Home Economics background is such that she is armed with a host of recipes for each of the packages she sells.
She has great dreams for the future.
“I want to see my products decorating the shelves of big supermarkets,” she said.
It’s time!

Own Correspondent

Continue Reading

Local News

A new, co-operative chain store



ROMA – ’MAKUENA Lesiea is spearheading the creation of a cooperative chain store that will sell Lesotho products only.
The store is being developed under the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub and it will be incubated by the Hub.
“Have you seen it? Basotho are producing like never before,” Lesiea said.
“However, their products are hard to see in the markets. We want to change all that.”

The store, she said, will open branches in all districts of Lesotho, starting from Maseru.
Visit any supermarket in Lesotho and check the products on the shelves.
You will be shocked to realise that, in general, just one percent of them are made in Lesotho.
The other 99 percent comes from elsewhere.
Is it because Basotho are not producing or can’t produce at all?

“Having worked directly with the NUL Innovation Hub and the Tsa Mahlale TV programme under the Hub, I have travelled the depth and breadth of Lesotho and I was amazed at the amount of work Basotho are doing,” she said.
What is the problem?
Basotho products are not given sufficient platforms to prove themselves.
“Credit where it is due, some shops are beginning to accept and sell Basotho products,” she said.

“However, they are barely making a dent because Basotho products, being at their infancy, cannot receive full attention unless by a store that is designed to give them full attention.”
Such a store doesn’t exist.

She said the idea is not to compete with any of the existing stores because “we are getting into a new territory altogether, we are addressing a different market”.
So listen to Lesiea as she presents some features of the store that will surely persuade you to join the bandwagon:

  1. Customer and producer confidence: The store, she said, will achieve two things.
    First, when they see masses of Lesotho-made products in one place, Basotho customers will slowly grow confidence in them.
    The confidence will shoot to the roof when the customers experience that many of the products made in Lesotho are already way ahead of foreign competitors in terms of quality.
    Secondly, the store will give Basotho producers an assurance that their products have, at least, one store that is willing to take them, dark or blue.
    More production will come from such assurance.
  2. Selling “everything”: The store will sell everything from fruits and vegetables to processed foodstuffs to clothing and building materials (if Thabure car will be in production by then, it will be on the shelves too).
    “Suppose what we want to sell is not locally made, we will never cross the border, any border, to find its equivalence. We will encourage Basotho to produce it until they do.”
  3. We mean business: whereas Basotho are beginning to produce, their products are still all over the place.
    You bump across them in some few willing stores, in expos and trade shows, or as being sold by individual resellers. Those are good efforts, but they are not enough. In fact, many in Lesotho have come to see producing and selling as being more of an art, a hobby, a therapy or a hustling than a business, “so we are seriously moving away from such a casual approach, we mean business this time around.”
  4. Ownership: So when you enter this store, you could be purchasing a product made by you in a store owned by you. What a difference!
  5. Reasonable standards: the store will only demand reasonable standards. As a struggling Mosotho, try taking your products to some of the local shops and you are, at worst, turned away without reason or, at best, given a long list of standards you must meet before they can take your product.
    “In our case, as long as your products are reasonably of good quality, you are in. NUL Innovation Hub is already testing many Basotho products. We won’t ignore quality, but we won’t use it as a way to prevent Basotho products from growing either.”
  6. A cooperative chainstore: From contributing as little as M50 per month, members will use a continuous financing model to ensure that the store doesn’t just end in Maseru but reaches the ten districts of Lesotho.
    Each branch will start at a medium scale in order to grow along with Basotho products. We won’t ask for investors to come from anywhere, “we will be investors ourselves.”
  7. An export launch pad. “We are often told to export our produce. The obvious question is, if you haven’t convinced your own people to consume your own products, how can you convince people in other lands to do so? Why should they take you seriously?”
    However, the store is not meant to be a local store forever.
    It will be a means by which we export our products to other countries in the future.
    When we export the store to Soweto, we export it along with products from Lesotho.
    Don’t say no because we have seen Chinese shops and Indian shops and, of course, South African shops, filled to the brim with Chinese products and Indian products and South African products in many countries.
    “If they can do it,” Lesiea ended, “so can we.”
    “Because if it is there in some of us, it is there in all of us.”

Own Correspondent

Continue Reading