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Marketing plans should include e-marketing

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The developments in the digital space has brought in benefits and challenges for upcoming entrepreneurs. The digital divide between those who have ready access to computers and the internet, and those who do not, has almost been closed with the explosive increase in the penetration of smartphones as a result of cheaper phones and easier access to broadband connectivity.
This development has brought about an impressive growth in internet users. This surge in internet usage has completely transformed the world of marketing, the way business is conducted and has opened up great doors for young entrepreneurs to leverage their businesses using e-commerce solutions.

Research has shown that E-commerce: the marketing, promotion, buying and selling of goods and services over the internet, is experiencing unprecedented growth and is expected to continue to grow into the future. Hamadoun Toure Secretary General of ITU said “Broadband gives small businesses the opportunity to broaden their customer base and reduce their overheads through e-commerce platforms.”
E-commerce comes in a number of forms: business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B), consumer-to-consumer (C2C) and e-procurement. An entrepreneur can adopt any of these forms.

Despite the limited resources available to start-ups, the young entrepreneurs have the advantage that they are endowed with IT knowledge, expertise and know how to experiment with technology and therefore should benefit from e-commerce. Being techno savvy gives the young entrepreneur an advantage when doing business on the internet.

Online business is now easy to start because the reduction in prices of software and hosting services has reduced the barriers to entry in the online business. You don’t need necessarily have to buy the software. You can lease the software from companies offering these services.
Businesses have three options either to host their own web site; host their site with a web hosting service provider or host their site with a portal such as Yahoo or other service providers for a small monthly fee.

Online business offers many advantages for the start-up. Traditional business requires the brick-and-mortar set-up which is very restrictive on growth because of the prohibitive costs in setting up such facilities. The most efficient, quick and cost effective alternative for entrepreneurs to start operations is by opting for the online route to run a business.

Young entrepreneurs can leverage on the internet to expand their markets, improve efficiencies, attract and retain customers, and exploit other e-commerce opportunities which include customer service, technical support, data retrieval, public and investor relations, security and payment issues, cutting costs, and obtaining advice or information.

Trading goods or services online gives the entrepreneur ability to reach out to a wider global audience without investing heavily in the physical infrastructure, the brick-and-mortar required under traditional businesses. You don’t need to invest in huge facilities to start a business.
Your major cost will be that of setting up a website that will give your company a foothold in the market by using this to stimulate public interest through social media, e-mails, videos and online advertisements, You can therefore run your business remotely from any location.

Companies carrying their business online will benefit through the reduction of costs associated with finding new customers.
E-commerce provides a variety of options to communicate with potential customers. You can tailor-make communication to a particular group of customers depending on their needs. This can be done at least cost. You can customise the way the organisation exhibits it products.
Payments can be done online. However security is one of the challenges and so should be addressed to avoid hacking into the site for credit card. Entrepreneurs need to assure their customers that they take adequate security precautions.

There have been substantial improvements in security on payments. Most of the payment systems are fairly secure and therefore should not pose any problems to customers.
Shipment of products can be done using the experienced international couriers.

Business can be carried out round the clock. Janice H Reinold said, “In today’s modern world, people are either asleep or connected.” The company is therefore able to provide 24/7 online support all over the globe. Customer service is enhanced as a result.
There is no longer much difference in exposure to customers between a small company and a big one.
Both are exposed the same way because of internet coverage.
E-commerce offers efficiencies that give a business the ability to reduce the costs of billing, payment, customer service and distribution costs. It also helps reduce supply chain management, procurement, and other management costs. This is because the internet, once set up, can operate at minimal costs.

The internet enables small businesses to access information about goods especially prices and availability of goods from different suppliers which gives the entrepreneur ability to source from cheaper sources and to effectively and efficiently manage stock levels.
Customer service can be improved by letting customers use frequently asked questions (FAQs). This will free up valuable time for the selling staff to do other activities for customers.

By using the internet companies are able to improve their value chain by cutting out the middleman. Normally in the traditional value chain the transaction flows from the manufacturer, then to the wholesaler/distributor, retailer, and finally to the consumer.
With the advent of the internet, entrepreneurs can develop relationships with the manufacturers and sell directly to the consumer without having to deal with the middlemen.

Entrepreneurs should take advantage of the internet because it’s global reach and mobility with the availability of smartphones. Cyndie Shaffstall said, “Mobile is not the future, it is the now. Meet your customers in the environment of their choice, not where it’s convenient for you.”
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, corporate governance, 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, call on +266 58881062 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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