Bank backs emerging businesses

Bank backs emerging businesses

MASERU – AS a small businessman, you might have started a company but have no skills to run it efficiently.
Now you want to grow the business and take it to the next level but still lack the basic skills to do so. That should no longer present a challenge, thanks to Standard Lesotho Bank which recently opened its Enterprise Hub at its Business Banking section at Maseru Mall. The bank intends to offer extra business support at the hub.

The bank says this is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur with the bank set to introduce more initiatives to stimulate the economy by supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in Lesotho.
It also provides support to start-up companies and gives young entrepreneurs the boost they need for their business.
Standard Lesotho Bank’s head of Enterprise Banking, Teboho Sello, said the Enterprise Hub offers more room to network, learn and grow in a space designed to develop entrepreneurs, whether they are a current or aspiring entrepreneurs, in a vibrant and welcoming space.

It offers a range of free services such as Wi-Fi, work and meeting space, market information such as GDP, growth rate, exchange rate, open tenders in the market, presentation facilities and skills development activities.

He said the bank conducted a survey in 2016 on what their customers expected from the bank. It also conducted a thin scope study for SMSs during the same year.
The survey found that most businessmen wanted skills development in order to manage their businesses while others had no offices and access to the internet.
“The bank decided to have an enterprise hub which will answer to the challenges of the entrepreneurs, whether they bank with Standard Bank or not without any form of payment. They have to place a booking first,” Sello said.

Another challenge was that they needed skills to grow and manage their business hence the bank decided to host mentorship training for entrepreneurs by a consultant who is fully paid by the bank.

The training takes up to 12 months and it started in April 2018. It will be divided into cohorts with a maximum of 60 trainees. Each cohort attends twice a month.
He said the criteria for choosing trainees depended on the bank’s customers, those that run big businesses but with little knowledge.
This training includes all customers from all corners of Lesotho.

“The intention is to eliminate unemployment. We aim to ensure that their turnover increases or doubles up and allows them to be able to export their services and grow the economy of Lesotho,” Sello said. In terms of the consultant, the bank decided to have one who will be able to disseminate information efficiently to the entrepreneurs.
The person must be a Mosotho who understands their background.

A tendering process took place and PKF Consultants won the tender. According to Sam Mphaka of PKF Consultants, they offer business management skills which touch five different areas.
They train and equip clients with skills, introduce them to the business and even go deeper in exploring what are the right structures and management systems that are essential for success.
“The training also goes deeper on how to keep records and prepare tax returns and even plan the tax affairs,” Mphaka said.  “It also involves how to grow the business by using technology and interpret financial reports,” he said.

He said financial reports assist business owners to perform better, be able to plan and decide first before venturing into businesses.
“It is essential to not get into a business without a feel of it.”

He noted that some of the challenges that entrepreneurs come across include not keeping proper records and not having strategic business thinking.
Mahase Makhabane, a trainee who runs Matla Cleaning Services, said the training has been of great importance.
As a sole trader it was quite challenging to keep daily cash flow records as well as getting orders for his business.

He said Standard Lesotho Bank and PKF Consultants have equipped them with knowledge and advertising skills.
“What the bank has done is very remarkable because we run our businesses with a blind eye. From now we will be able to move from the ground level, change from being a sole trader to a company which will employ many people,” Makhabane said.

Makhabane urged the bank to open their doors when they need assistance even after the completion of the training.

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