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Phori pledges to sort out cooperatives



MASERU – SMALL Businesses Minister Chalane Phori says he wants to promote cooperatives to help fight unemployment in Lesotho.
Speaking at the Youth Cooperatives Forum on Monday, Phori said he was concerned by the stagnation in the cooperatives sector.
He said he also wants to see that cooperatives are run on a sustainable basis.

Phori said his task right now is to find out why cooperatives collapse, and then come up with a remedy.
He said a recent study by a local researcher, Joseph Mothusi, indicates that there were 247 cooperatives in 2007 but the number had fallen to 174 in 2016.
The minister said despite the dwindling number of active cooperatives between 2007 and 2016, “they contributed significantly to the livelihoods of Basotho who treated them as their income generating projects”.

‘‘And these projects have to be managed professionally,’’ Phori said.
He said ‘‘cooperatives are critical in reducing hunger and creating job opportunities’’.
‘‘Members benefit by sharing resources generated by the cooperatives,’’ he said.
Phori said his plan is to see cooperatives being promoted at high and tertiary school levels.

\“This will in turn help the country to find out the level of unemployment among Lesotho youths and instil a love of cooperatives even before the students graduate,” he said.
‘‘This will enable production and usage of local and indigenous resources to avoid dependence on imports.’’

The Commissioner of Co-operatives, ’Maphamoli Lekoetje, told thepost that “the Youth Cooperatives Forum is aimed at promoting youth employment through cooperative enterprises”.
Lekoetje said youth cooperatives are targeted at creating a platform for youths to capacitate on governance and best management practices.
There are 55 youth cooperatives countrywide and 12 of them are based in primary, high and tertiary schools while 43 are community based.

‘‘We believe investing in youths at an early age will encourage them as co-operators to engage in sustainable adult cooperatives in future,” Lekoetje said.
“We are trying to avoid creating weak cooperatives which lack effectiveness and efficiency because their adult members joined them (when they were old),’’ she said.
She said the forum sought to provide participants with knowledge on business matters such as “quality standards, value adding and even learning about other cooperatives so as to create informed entrepreneurs”.

‘‘Most cooperatives established in the community are formed by graduates and are able to create jobs and provide services,’’ she said.
The Secretary General of the Lesotho Youth Cooperatives Alliance (LYCA), Thabang Mothibeli, said the LYCA was established in 2012 “with the motive to wipe out the long perceived saying that cooperatives are for old people”.

‘‘We are here to portray to the whole nation and our sister countries (Botswana and Swaziland), that cooperatives are also meant for youths,’’ Mothibeli said.
Botswana and Swaziland were represented at the forum. Mothibeli Mahlelehlele, a member of the Teachers’ Cooperatives and mentor of John-Mount High School Cooperative Society in Nazareth, said the school’s cooperative specialises in bee-keeping.

‘‘Boxes to store these bees were a main problem but that didn’t stop us, we sought out help from various sponsors and fortunately the Blue Cross Society supported us,” Mahlelehlele said.
“However, we still need flowers to attract bees. Finding a box is a very huge achievement. Very soon we are going to reap the benefits of what we conserved,’’ he said.
A 13-year-old student, Phole Shale, a member of the Koalabata Agricultural Cooperative Society (KAC), said they are planning to plant fruit trees and grow vegetables in December.
KAC is based at Rasetimela High School in Sekamaneng.

It is engaged in commercial farming and with the sole purpose of reducing poverty.
It was formed in March this year.  ‘‘I enrolled in it because when I grow up, I want to be a successful businessman who will not depend on anyone for a job but rather create jobs for others,’’ Shale said.

A member of the Rise and Shine Cooperative Society, Mpho Thulo, 22, said they plant vegetables seasonally and engage in animal husbandry (chicken breeding and pig farming).
Rise and Shine is a cooperative society at Mohale’s High School. The main aim is to help the poor with school fees, stationery, food and cosmetics.
Thulo said the major challenges they encountered were that of ‘‘eggs disappearing and that forced us to stop the chicken project until we buy cages that will help us to keep them safe”.
“Also using money for school fees hindered our project from growing hence it led to its closure,’’ she said.

Thulo also said that sometimes, members quit after falling pregnant or move to other districts with their parents.
‘‘Dealing with such temporary membership causes problems for the cooperative,” she said.
“This has affected the quality of leadership,” she said.  Thulo said the cooperative lends money to those who are unable to pay their school fees”.
‘‘However, if we don’t have enough money, we consult our mentor, Thabang Phaila, for assistance and he seeks help from outside,” she said.

’Mapule Motsopa

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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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