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Indigenous chickens give Basotho something to crow about



MASERU – ASK any rural Mosotho man how many cattle he has and he will readily volunteer a number with pride.In them he has something that can be exchanged for good money or be slaughtered at a funeral. Cows are an insurance policy of sorts. Ask him how many sheep he has and he might venture to hazard a gues whose accuracy depends on how recently he spoke to his herd-boy. He can sell, harvest their wool or slaughter for small ceremonies.

But ask him how many chickens he has and all you might get is a blank stare. It’s probably because chickens are considered livestock for women. In any case those birds that roam the yards in rural Lesotho are never meant to be sold. You slaughter them for your visitors or give as small gifts to friends and relatives. Yet they are the major source of protein both through their meat and eggs in the rural areas. Rural women have understood the centrality of the chicken in their homes. Rearing those chickens is more of a hobby than a job to them. But finally someone thinks rearing those free-roaming domestic birds can be a job and a business. The Women in Business Federation of Lesotho will soon be launching a project to encourage women to rear traditional chickens for export. ’Mamahlapane Rakuoane, chairperson of the federation, told thepost that there is a huge demand for indigenous chickens, especially in South Africa where people are increasingly becoming more health conscious.

“People are now seeking to eat everything that is organic, they are parting ways with the chemically enhanced food,” Rakuoane said. “In South Africa there are already restaurants that sell indigenous chickens only and they are in need of supply hence we are in talks to supply them with chickens,” she said.Rakuoane added that Basotho should grab this opportunity with both hands and produce the indigenous chickens in great numbers. “It is our hope that by the end of February the chicken abattoir at Ha-Thetsane will start operating, this will enable farmers to bring their chickens and have them slaughtered in a manner aligned with international standards,” Rakuoane said.  Those who want to take advantage of this business opportunity should start rearing the chickens now because they take long to mature, she said.  “They are not like these chickens that we rear and feed special food, they take time to grow but when well cared for they grow quickly even if it is not the same with these ones fed with chemicals.”

Rakuoane said the federation is planning training workshops for those who want to venture into the indigenous chicken business.
“It’s true that they are not as demanding as the (chemically fed broilers) chickens but in order to maintain quality we should all use the same methods so that buyers cannot differentiate whether the chicken has been reared in Qacha’s Nek or Maseru,” she said. She indicated that there are already farmers who produce indigenous chickens but because of the demand more farmers are needed, “hence we are calling for everyone to take part and help meet the market demand”.The abattoir is expected to be able to slaughter at least 2000 chickens a day. Small Businesses Development Minister Selibe Mochoboroane recently told members of the federation that the project has the potential to pull hundreds of rural families out of poverty.

Mochoboroane said chicken imports cost Lesotho over M660 million a year. He stated that this was a huge bill for chickens while Basotho can rear chickens as well and penetrate the mainstream markets. In the 2011/12 Lesotho imported 270 000 kilogrammes of chicken meat according to the Bureau of Statistic’s Livestock Products report. In 2013 chicken constituted nearly 40 percent of meat imported by Lesotho. “We will also ensure that we get a mobile abattoir so that even farmers in remote areas can have their chickens slaughtered without incurring too many costs or any other obstacles, what is left is for you to produce chickens,” Mochoboroane said.

This is not the first time someone has tried to make a business out of indigenous chickens.  In 2014 the Rural Self-Help Development Association (RSDA) tried to help vulnerable households rear the chickens as a means of earning an income and reducing poverty.  The idea behind the project, according to RSDA, was that “chickens are a vital buffer against poverty in Lesotho’s rural areas, providing improved nutrition and income-generating opportunities through the sale of eggs, chicks and meat.” “Indigenous chickens are better suited to this role because they’re more disease resistant; do not require special/expensive feed and they’re better brooders than exotic breeds. Yet, exotic breeds have all but replaced the indigenous chicken, threatening its gene pool,” RSDA says in its pamphlet. “The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has provided RSDA with a US$33 000 grant (about M495 000 under its biodiversity focal area) to research ways to improve their performance and to make them more widely available through an indigenous chicken breeding programme.”

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Why invest for the future



AN investment plan forms a critical pillar of a financial plan, says Tokiso Nthebe, a local author and financial services adviser.

Nthebe, the founder of TKO Financial Wellness and Advisory, says when people invest, they can use their money to buy assets that will increase in value over the long term.
He says these assets can help them build wealth.

“When you invest, your money starts to work for you by providing returns that will beat inflation,’’ Nthebe says.

Nthebe says there is a huge difference between saving and investing.

He says investing requires that you take some level of risk in exchange for an expected return or growth.

Nthebe says Basotho should consider many factors before they decide to start investing.

“It is important to have a clear strategy that guides your investment decisions and to work with qualified professionals,” he says.

Nthebe says one should consider their growth mind-set, investment goals, and their risk tolerance.

In addition, one should consider what kind of growth or return they expect.

He says one should find out whether the institution they invest in is licensed or regulated and how long one should invest.

Nthebe says one should further consider what risks are associated with the investment option and whether there are any associated costs.

He says it is also important to remember that investments take time.

“There are no short cuts to building wealth. Do not fall prey to get-rich-quick schemes,” he says.

Moreover, Nthebe says the investment landscape comprises commercial banks, asset management companies, and insurance companies.

He says each provides different financial products and services.

Nthebe says the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) also offers investment solutions such as treasury bills and treasury bonds that Basotho can consider.

Depending on your investment goals, he says financial service providers have a wide range of investment solutions to choose from that cater for short, medium, and long-term goals.

“I encourage Basotho to do thorough research and seek professional advice before making financial decisions,” he says.

Vince Shorb, the United States National Financial Educators Council CEO, writes that “many of the financial problems people face today started when they were young and making their first financial decisions”.

Shorb further says taking on too much debt, not investing early, and failing to plan can take one decades to recover from such.

However, it takes financial literacy to make good decisions, he says.

Financial literacy has been perceived as a tool that gives you the opportunity to be confident and empowered to live the quality of life you have worked hard for.

Shorb says one of the wisest decisions one can make to prepare for the future is to invest.

Investment has been defined as the commitment of funds with a view to minimising risk and safeguarding capital while earning a return.

Refiloe Mpobole

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When Covid-19 hit and the government shut down all gatherings in April 2020, there seemed no way out for ICONICS (Pty) Ltd, a budding events management company based in Leribe district.

They had two options: shut down or innovate to keep the business going.
They chose the latter.

Three years down the line, ICONICS (Pty) Ltd has completely transformed itself from an events management and public relations company into a manufacturing company that is now the envy of Lesotho.
“The closing of events translated into the closing of our business,” Rapitso Mosebetsi, one of the co-founders of ICONICS (Pty) Ltd told thepost this week.
Mosebetsi established ICONICS in partnership with Tumo Mahapa.

Faced with collapse, Mosebetsi say they began buying Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as surgical gowns, disposal coveralls and safety apparel for resale.
Eventually they decided to manufacture the PPEs and safety clothing. That was the turning point.
But since the company was already down, Mosebetsi says diversification was a hard nut to crack.

“It became quite a long journey (for us),” he says. “We had to come up with something new for the industry.”
He says they had to overcome stiff competition from giant companies and come up with something unique that would set them apart.
“That was how thermal heating apparel was born,” he says.

“We are the first company to produce thermal heating apparel,” he says.
The company manufactures thermal clothing, which is electric clothing, using power banks of five voltages.
“The voltage is so low to electrocute a person,” he says.
The clothing also has a power button to turn it on and off.

Mosebetsi says the thermal heating apparel is on corporate clothing as well as high-visibility clothing.
Mosebetsi says they started the journey with the support of several organisations, such as the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) and the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO), to build their capacity.
Mosebetsi says they also got mentorship support from organisations such as the Global Entrepreneurship Network.
The results of years of hard work are now all out for everyone to see.

In 2022, ICONICS won the M100 000 Business Plan Competition hosted by BEDCO.
This grant enabled them to acquire land and buy five more industrial machines.
This did not only enable the company to increase their production to 100 worksuits a week, but it further created permanent jobs for five people as well as three temporary workers.

Last year, the company took part in the Exporter of the Year event hosted by the LNDC in partnership with the Lesotho Post Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Mosebetsi says they won the award for Lesotho’s most innovative and versatile exporter.
He says this did not only put them in the spotlight, but it further encouraged them to do more.
ICONICS was announced as the best exporter of the year at an event hosted by the LNDC earlier this month.
Mosebetsi says this made them proud, as the award is aligned with their vision.

The award further gives the company an opportunity to participate in the regional competition.
He says this opportunity will further give the company a competitive edge in terms of production locally and globally.
“It will be an honour if we can win the regional competition,” he says.

In terms of markets, Mosebetsi says the company has had the opportunity to list their products in the African Trade Market since 2020 with the support of USAID.
This is an e-commerce platform that opens up the market for African countries to list their products.
Mosebetsi says the company did not only get publicity, but the client database also increased.
He says they moved from supplying individuals only to big companies, different organisations, and different government departments such as those involved in mining and health.

Considering the decline of the Lesotho textile industry, Mosebetsi says their secret to success has been their being innovative.
“Our sustainability is matched with innovation,” he says.
Mosebetsi says it also requires patience coupled with lots of investment in terms of time.
“Rome was not built in one day,” he says.

He says working as a team also plays a critical role.
Despite their achievements, Mosebetsi says the market for innovative industries is one of the hardest nuts to crack.
He says the company is in the process of not only making their products known but also educating people about their safety.
Mosebetsi says the other challenge is the decline of the South African Rand as compared to the US Dollar.

He says some of their materials are sourced from China.
Therefore, it is more expensive to buy such materials.
ICONICS is not only seeking to make their brand well known globally, but Mosebetsi says they are also seeking to create more jobs for our youths.

Own Correspondent

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LetsGo and Win!



LETSHEGO Financial Service has launched the LetsGo and Win loan consolidation campaign where customers win weekly and monthly cash prizes of up to M150 000.
The campaign, which was launched yesterday, will end on November 8.
The LetsGo and Win campaign rewards customers for consolidating their loans.
It is aligned with Letshego Lesotho’s version to offer competitive products that cater for the evolving needs of its customers.

The financial services company operates in Lesotho, Botswana, ESwatini, and Zambia.
The Marketing Manager and Business Partner, Tšotetsi Seema, said Letshego Lesotho is committed to delivering increasing value and options to customers.
Seema said this programme is a testament to that commitment.

“The campaign invites customers to consolidate their loans into one low and easy repayment with reduced rates and they stand to win weekly and monthly prizes,” Seema said.

“The weekly cash prizes will be won by lucky customers randomly selected and notified through Letshego Radio shows,” he said.

Additionally, he said two lucky customers will be randomly selected each month and given a chance to spin the wheel of fortune with a chance to receive a maximum of M20 000 each.

“The loans consolidation campaign makes it easier for customers to choose Letshego Lesotho as their preferred financial services partner.”

He said this innovative campaign aims to help individuals streamline their debt payment while benefiting from reduced interest rates.

“Debt consolidation can help customers get a lower monthly payment, pay off their debt sooner, increase their credit score and simplify their life.”

Letshego Lesotho’s Head of Sales, Distribution and Marketing, Motebang Moeketsi, said managing multiple loans can often be overwhelming with varying interest loans due dates and terms.

“The campaign addresses this challenge by combining multiple loans into a single, easy to manage repayment plan,” Moeketsi said.

He added that this simplification not only eases the financial burden on borrowers but also potentially leads to significant savings over time.
Moreover the new consolidation campaign invites customers to take advantage of their best-in-class financial services provided through Letshego Lesotho branch network and digital platforms.

“Letshego Lesotho is committed to increasing financial inclusion through its efforts to serve underbanked communities, promoting financial literacy and delivering positive social impacts for its customers and communities.”

Alice Samuel

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