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The beauty of the bee business



QACHA’S NEK – THEY at times can be a real nuisance.
When cornered they can sting, buzz around and crawl inside the house.
And when they irritate us we call the experts to fumigate them or remove them from our houses.
Without them, there would be no life as we know it.

Researchers say at least a third of our global food supply is pollinated by bees. Without these small insects, our crops would not be pollinated.
That would spell disaster for humanity, they say. Yet, for Tšeliso Moeti, 34, from Qacha’s Nek, bees are neither a nuisance nor an irritation.
That is because Moeti’s bee project is helping put bread on the table for him and his family.

Moeti believes that the time is coming when commercial farmers will hire beekeepers to bring bees to their farms so that they can help with cross pollination.
This practice is already being implemented in commercially advanced farming countries such as the United States where an online magazine says “bees provide essential pollination services to US fruit, vegetable and seed growers”.

The magazine says this adds “$8-14 billion annually to farm income, ensuring a continuous supply of healthy and affordable foods for the consumer”.
“About 2 million colonies are rented by growers each year to service over 90 crops,” it says. “Over the past five years, the percentage of income from pollination services has increased and overtaken honey,” the magazine says.

Moeti, who only went to school as far as Form E, may not be aware of the ground-breaking research on pollination in the Western world.
His focus at present appears to raising bees, collect honey and sell it to his neighbours.

He says after he finished school, he could not secure a job because he did not do too well in his Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC) exams.
He says he bumped into the bee-keeping business accidentally after he attended a training programme run by the Ministry of Forestry in 2007.
While he was taught how to catch bees, he was still to master the art of rearing bees so they could stay in his hives.
He would go out in the countryside to catch the bees, bring them home but soon after they would be gone, back to the wild.
“That was tiring but I never lost hope,” Moeti says.

“I never lost hope as I had nowhere to go because I’m not educated and our country does not have enough jobs for everyone.”
With time, through a personal study of how bees build their combs, their activities and the arrangement of their dwellings Moeti became a successful bee charmer.
Today, those who aspire to run a similar business go to him and buy bees to keep at their homes or farms.

Moeti charges M500 for fetching bees from the wild if a customer has spotted where they are, and M1 000 if he is the one to search for a hive.
He also charges an additional M500 for making a special hive in which a colony will feel comfortable to build its nest.
He says he has so far trained 15 bee farmers countrywide some of whom are now keeping bees for commercial purposes.

“Beginning in 2009 things went well. I use good techniques of collecting these bees and even the way I keep them is very different from the way I did before,” he says.
He says the good thing about bee farming, if you know how to catch and bring them to your home, is that you do not need any capital except your hands and brains.
All you have to do is to plant a lot of flowers around the hive, have water nearby, and that is all.

He says his only challenge is when flowers wither in winter and the bees have less to eat because they live on nectar.
“They do not have much honey and sometimes they die,” Moeti says.
“Also, they die when it is rainy and they are not well sheltered. They are not able to search for nectar when it is raining for several consecutive days,” he says.
“The less they eat the less they produce honey.”

Moeti cautions that the keeper must ensure that the young ones do not die “because the entire colony will fly away and never come back. They do not live with the dead”.
“The other problem is that the equipment for bees is not available in Lesotho and to import such material is very expensive,” he says.
Moeti says the business of bee-keeping is good because many people do not just buy honey for food but also for its medicinal value.
“Honey is a medicine when it is mixed with some products so many people buy it. It can also be used as a body cream and it helps people who want to defy the signs of age grow old to remain younger and be stronger,” Moeti says.

“The bee sting has medicinal value in that it is used to treat arthritis and stroke,” he says.
Since the 1930s, researchers have been refining extraction techniques to collect bee venom, because bee stings can relieve the symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism, and other diseases.
Propolis, a glue like plant resin that bees use to maintain the comb, is used in cosmetics and healing creams and may have antibiotic or anaesthetic properties.
Honey is also used in the production of royal jelly, bees’ wax, propolis, pollen, bee venom and other products.

Beeswax from cell caps and old combs is also used for high-quality candles, pharmaceuticals, lotions, and friction-reducing waxes for skis and surfboards.
Food additives for humans and domestic animals are made from bee-collected pollen and from royal jelly, which bees produce as food for their larvae.
“I have 10 boxes of bees, one box contains 10kg of honey or sometimes contains 20kg of honey,” Moeti says.
He sells a 500 gramms bottle of honey for M75.

A 10kg box of honey goes for M1 500 while a 20kg container sells for M3 000.
In a year Moeti makes M30 000 from honey sales “which is a good profit because I did not buy any bee”.
“This business helps me a lot because I never went far with my education,” he says.

Moeti says he used to be a small-scale crop farmer and would sometimes get temporary jobs at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) during elections.
“This is a very good business and I wish people can take this opportunity,” he says.

“Many Basotho are interested because I have helped 15 people and they are now successfully running similar businesses while 46 are still undergoing training so that they can do this business too,” he says.
“I think this can reduce poverty and our standard of living will be better.”

Thooe Ramolibeli

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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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