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Managing a crisis

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At some stage a business will encounter a crisis that will need to be dealt with if an organisation is to avoid a loss in reputation and a damage on its brand.  A crisis can be defined as a significant threat to operations that can have negative consequences if not handled properly.
In crisis management, the threat is the potential damage a crisis can inflict on an organisation, its stakeholders, and an industry.
A crisis can create threats to public safety or can cause financial and reputational loss. Crises can create financial loss by disrupting operations, creating a loss of market share or a company getting embroiled in lawsuits related to the crisis.

The way organisations respond to a crisis is very important. Organisations need to protect their brands very seriously because a slight mistake in responding to a crisis can have a negative impact on the reputation of the organisation.

The Public Relations (PR) department of any organisation should have a strategy as to how it will respond to a crisis.
This should be approved at a higher level to ensure that the Chief Executive (CE) knows how to respond whenever there is problem that needs an immediate response. The plan should also be communicated to the employees to ensure that everyone responds with one voice whenever there is a crisis.

Crisis management has become very critical with the digital age we live in where social media is very active.
Any mistake that a company does either by supplying a substandard product or polluting the environment or injuring or killing members of the public can become viral on social media resulting in irreparable damage to the organisation’s brand image if it is not attended to early and effectively.

So it’s very important that the PR strategy considers some of the issues discussed below. The risk of losing business over a crisis can easily be averted if the PR and CE follow some of these rules.

What needs to to be borne in mind is that in the event of a public relations crisis the organisation should not remain silent. It should do something to address the crisis. It should inform its employees, customers and other stakeholders. There is no need to try to cover up a crisis either.
The PR department should come out to the public accepting responsibility for what has happened without having to argue publicly otherwise this will worsen the problem.

Make the apology visible on all media so that the public can see that you are concerned with what has happened.
If your organisation identifies a problem on its product even if the public has not picked it up it’s important that the PR department be proactive and immediately communicates to the public before the public is aware of the issue.

If a company has to recall its defective product, so be it. This will give a boost to the reputation of the company’s image because the public will see that the company is transparent and has accepted responsibility and is prepared to compensate those who have been affected by the defective product or service.

Companies like Toyota have recalled their cars whenever they saw that there was something defective with those cars. This is what it should be because it shows that the company is concerned with the wellbeing of its customers. Don’t wait for the problem to become common knowledge or else it will get viral.

A company should constantly monitor comments on the social media about its product and brand. Sometimes a customer that has been served poorly or treated badly can go onto social media without first informing the problem to the company.
In that case the company should respond appropriately by investigating the problem and informing the public of how the issue is being resolved or has been resolved.
So it’s worthwhile for a company to play on social media so as to know what could be happening that has a negative or positive impact on the organisation.

When responding to a crisis or communicating a problem to the public it’s very important that you empathise with those who are affected.
Be in their shoes rather than showing no concern at all. We are humans and so our response should reflect that as well.
An apology should be followed by action. Your organisation should immediately start implementing something to bring reparations to the issue.
The public should be updated as to what you are doing and how far you have resolved the problem. Constantly monitor the progress of the resolution and keep updating your stakeholders on how you are sorting out the mess.

Whenever a problem occurs it’s important that you investigate immediately before responding and then communicate to the public so that you communicate the right message.

If you are assessing the situation then it’s important that you communicate such to the public rather than not communicating at all.
An organisation should have a culture of treating its employees well. Failure to do that can cause some of these public relations crises because if an employee is not happy he will treat customers badly and if there is a crisis he will not respond in a way that safeguards the brand of the organisation. So have a culture of caring to your employees.

Companies should therefore have a plan as to how they should respond to any crisis. The plan should indicate how the crisis will be communicated to employees, customers, suppliers, the public and other key stakeholders.

A company without a policy or plan on how it deals with a crisis will be forced to have emotional, uncoordinated responses which usually backfire on the company thereby impacting negatively on the company’s image.

Have a response that is well thought-out that will resolve the issues to the customers’ and other stakeholders’ satisfaction. A company should appoint a spokesperson who will communicate to stakeholders to avoid conflicting messages.

Every organisation is recommended to anticipate potential crisis scenarios and establish internal protocols for handling them. There is therefore a need for a well-crafted crisis management policy and strategy.

l Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy (ACCA P3), advanced performance management (P5) and entrepreneurship.

He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.

For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: sjakarasi@gmail.com or WhatsApp +266 62110062.

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Jobs galore for Lesotho

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94 000 jobs.

That is what the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA-Lesotho) will create in the next 10 years, according to Prime Minister Sam Matekane.

The MCA-Lesotho was created by the Lesotho parliament last year after the United States’ Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) found Lesotho eligible to receive development funds.

The MCC gives development grants to poor countries that respects democratic principles and human rights.

The MCC has unlocked a staggering US$322 million (over M5 billion) to the government of Lesotho after the country enacted three laws the protect people’s basic rights this week.

Matekane advised youths to visit MCA-Lesotho offices to understand how best they can benefit from the fund and the projects that will be financed.

The MCC’s investments are aimed at increasing the availability of water for household and industrial use, enhance watershed management and conservation methods, rehabilitate health infrastructure and strengthen health systems, and remove barriers to private investment.

The MCA-Lesotho’s Health and Horticulture Compact seeks to assist the country in unlocking equitable and sustainable economic growth in partnership with the private sector by addressing key constraints to growth.

Matekane said the job creation potential of the horticulture project alone is estimated at 4 000 jobs.

This excludes indirect jobs that will be created through packaging supplies, logistics, cold chain activities as well as the processing of the output.

“Let us all be ready and ensure we spend all the funding that is available,” Matekane said.

He said the money is going to be invested in agriculture, trade and industry, value chains, infrastructure development, tourism and creative sectors.

“The Compact has come at a critical time when the country is in dire need of financial injections to revive the economy,” he said.

“This second Compact forms the core of Lesotho’s private sector-led economic growth, recovery and job creation agenda.”

He said the MCA staff should work diligently, to implement this Compact.

“There are several Basotho businesses out there that are eager to seize the opportunities that the Compact brings,” Matekane said.

“Serve them with integrity, accountability and dedication.”

Matekane said the government has established the Cabinet Sub-Committee on the Compact which is under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Nthomeng Majara.

The sub-committee is mandated to ensure that the government provides overall oversight, strategic direction and support for successful implementation of the Compact.

He said he expects the MCA-Lesotho to ensure the full implementation of the project within the next five years.

“Our economy needs this capital injection to boost productivity and job creation,” Matekane said.

Matekane said the government had to enact three pieces of legislation which were necessary to support the investments that the MCC is making.

The enacted laws are the Labour Code Amendment Bill, the Administration of Estates and Inheritance Bill and the Occupational Safety and Health Bill.

Majara Molupe

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Bank spearheads career expo

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Standard Lesotho Bank will tomorrow host a career expo at the ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre for high school students who will sit for their final exams this year.
The 14th Annual Standard Lesotho Bank Career Expo was launched in Mokhotlong on Monday where the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) welcomed students in areas around the Polihali Dam construction site.

On Tuesday the expo was at the Butha-Buthe Community High School, yesterday it was at Assumption High School in Teya-Teyaneng while today it is in Quthing at Holy Trinity High School.

The five-day nationwide event is dedicated to connecting ambitious Basotho youths with exciting career opportunities.

Standard Lesotho Bank says it’s career expo “is a cornerstone of the bank’s commitment to empowering Basotho youth and shaping the future of Lesotho’s workforce”.

The 2024 edition of the event is the 14th where the bank is now the headline sponsor of this important expo that reaches about over 10 000 students countrywide.

The expo promises to be an even better offering where over 35 institutions of higher learning from Lesotho and South Africa as well as professional bodies will explain different career options to Basotho students.

Standard Lesotho Bank communications manager, Manyathela Kheleli, said students in Mokhotlong did not only learn about different engineering disciplines but got to appreciate engineering in action at Polihali.

He said it was a lifetime experience for students from Mokhotlong, “thanks to the collaboration with LHDA, who are fully responsible for the Polihali leg of the event”.

There were also motivational speakers from different professions in the bank and other selected institutions.

Key influencers in the football fraternity, former Likuena captain and now Corporate Responsibility Manager at Letšeng Diamonds, Tšepo Hlojeng, and former Orlando Pirates dribbling wizard, Steve Lekoelea, are among the influencers that have been invited to address the students.

The event is a sponsorship initiative under Personal and Private Banking that is open to all youths, communities, and individuals, where the bank intends to use this event to drive the new Youth or student Customer Value Proposition and attract high school students to open accounts ahead of their enrolment into tertiary institutions.

The objective of this sponsorship is to first create an environment where future leaders of Lesotho will be nurtured and informed of top career choices that demonstrate various skills requirements for the growth of Lesotho’s economy.

Secondly, the career expo is a clear demonstration of the bank’s intention to put youths at the centre of its initiatives.

This position is shown by the bank’s initiative to not only develop special products for youths, such as the Youth Account but also through several initiatives that promote youth empowerment. These include the bursary scheme and the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project.

“We are more than a bank for our youths, but a good corporate citizen and a partner for the education for Basotho,” Kheleli said.

“We believe that as we grow our youths, they will become assets to this country and by extension, develop into a feeder market for our banking products when they enter the job market,” he said.

The bank has invested M150 000 towards sponsorship of the annual Career Expo.

Staff Reporter

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Ministry launches fresh industrialisation drive

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A new policy to drive industrialisation in Lesotho was launched in Maseru this week.
The Lesotho National Industrialisation Policy 2024–2028 is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Trade.

The ministry says the policy seeks to accelerate economic diversification in the industrial base, enhance productivity and productive capacity for industrialisation and advance domestic and regional value chains for industrialisation.

It also seeks to promote and develop industrial clustering, promote inclusive industrialisation, support entrepreneurship development and strengthen business linkages.
The new policy will also seek to enhance energy efficiency and sustainability, promoting technology adoption and innovation, services-based industrialisation, and stimulating agro-based industrialisation.

This is not the first time Lesotho has launched an industrialisation policy. Previous policies have all failed.

The first attempt was the 2015–2017 industrial policy, whose aim was to accelerate the industrialisation agenda and address key challenges facing the country.

The second one was the 2018–2023 policy, which after its unsuccessful execution during the three years of implementation, the government extended it to the National Strategic Development Plan Strategic Focus (2023/24-2027/28).

The new industrial policy’s target is set to activate implementation on innovation to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of domestic industries, create decent jobs and improve the welfare of Basotho.

Thabo Moleko, the Ministry of Trade Principal Secretary, said the implementation of the new policy is set to deepen economic growth, promote industrialisation and enhance competitiveness.

“The plan includes greater investment in industrial development with the intention to create employment and incomes while building on maintaining the existing industrial trade,” Moleko said.

Mamello Nchake, a consultant for the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA), said the development goals of the industrial policy are set to ensure an achievable inclusiveness and equitable growth as they aim to create sector-led quality jobs for Basotho.

Nchake said the goals are meant to “develop and maintain enabled infrastructure that is critical to the private sectors and also to promote gender equality, environmental and climate risk management”.

“Moreover, the policy (will seek to) harness the collaboration with private sector firms to address common challenges and promote industrialisation,” she said.

The workshop discussed constraints that hindered the implementation of the 2018 – 2023 policy that undermined investment and trade opportunities.

The constraints include access to land for investment, inadequate provision of infrastructure, an outdated and a lack of appropriate regulatory environment, low productive capacity, market size and topological constraints, unstable macroeconomic environment, external factors, and over-dependency of trade preferences.

To address the strategic objectives, the previous industrial policies had proposed tax incentives for industrial development, trade policy and regional integration as the main vehicle for industrialisation and structural transformation.

They had also proposed mechanisms for policy coordination and implementation, institutional alignment and linkages.

However, several key challenges were identified in the implementation of the 2015-2017 industrial policy.

They included limited financial and investment capacity to effectively implement the industrial policy actions.

“Financing instruments are not aligned with the level of development needs of the private sector,” stakeholders heard at the workshop.

They also heard that there is “persistent dependency on few industries that poses risks in the face of global economic uncertainties and ever-changing consumer preferences”.
Another identified problem is limited investment climate that makes it costly for foreign firms to invest in Lesotho.

It was also observed that a shortage of specialised education and skills crucial for growth of industries impact the ability of firms to adopt advanced technologies and improve productivity and the productive capacity.

Stakeholders also heard that there is limited global competitiveness and access to global markets.

Lesotho’s industries, they heard, particularly textiles and garments, face competition from other low-cost manufacturing countries.

The country is also spooked by poor coordination between the implementing agencies due to a lack of a clear implementation framework.

Khahliso ’Molaoa

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