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MASERU

 

WHEN Lebaka Makana and Rethabile Mohapeloa quit their jobs in 2012 to focus on a piggery project some people thought they had lost their minds. The friends had decent jobs.

Mohapeloa was an administrative manager at a car dealership in Maseru while Makana was managing a lodge in Morija. For years they had dreamt of starting their own business.

So in 2010 they started contributing a portion of their salaries to start a piggery. Although they had not done much by way of market research, they were confident that they would succeed.

And for some time it seemed like they had correctly read the market. With hindsight they now admit that the only reason they thought they were doing well was because they were still earning their salaries.

The money from the piggery was merely an additional income. Trouble started in 2012 when they quit their jobs to focus on the business. Suddenly the piggery project was their only source of livelihood.

To earn more they needed to produce more pigs. After slaughtering six of their 20 pigs they realised that they did not have a market for the meat. The people who had promised to buy from them were not forthcoming.

“Before slaughtering them, a lot of people had shown interest in buying meat from us but after slaughtering all of a sudden everyone had bought meat from elsewhere,” Makana says.

Without buyers they had to sell their meat cheap before it rot.

“That was a blow for us because we had spent three quarters of our salaries on the piggery thinking that soon we would have a thriving business,” he says.

“We had sacrificed our families’ money, left them with only enough to buy maize meal.Now we had to go back to them to negotiate more capital from the little they had.”

Soon they had gone through their savings.

“We learnt the hard way and we nearly threw in the towel at some point but we forged forward because we were determined not to fail but to achieve our dream”.

Makana admits they had made a blunder by keeping the pigs in two locations.

Makana was keeping some at Morija while Mohapeloa kept some in Mohale’s Hoek. That almost doubled their costs, wiping their already thin margins.

Eventually they were forced to move the animals to Morija to cut operating costs and to be near their buyers who are food vendors in Maseru.

“We had to put our thinking caps on. We could not go on producing and not being able to sell. We sat down and decided to create our own market and came to the conclusion that we should start our own butchery in Maseru,” Makana says.

They rented space next to Twisters Pub in Ha-Matala where they established Sharp Corner Butchery. The results of that move were instant.

“Creating our own market was the greatest step we took. Our pork sold out,” Makana says.

“We are only able to provide a quarter of the market’s needs and we import three quarters of our meat from South Africa”.

Though theylook like they are already living their dream the two men say they are still very far from getting where they want.

“There are obstacles to overcome and until we are able to satisfy our market we will not rest,” Makana says.

“We have a serious challenge with water.Because we are at the end of the village WASCO does not supply us with water,” he says.

“It is impossible to run this type of business without water. We have tried to make a borehole and failed three times but we won’t give up.We are going to make it the fourth time.”

Makana says because of the scarcity of water they buy 10 000 litres of water twice every week from WASCO”.

“Water is not expensive but the transport is”.

Another problem is that of land.

“We applied to the Makhoarane Council for extension of our land in 2014 but we did not get an answer until recently. The answer we got was that the land that we already have is more than enough”.

“We were disappointed with the answer the people who are supposed to be drivers of development gave us.They are the same ones rejecting the development. They didn’t even come to see what we were talking about, they just rejected our request,” he says.

Makana says the local government authorities like the Makhoarane Council should see that the piggery’s expansion will create more jobs for the community.

“So far the only land we have is that which we bought from our neighbours. Hopefully we will have enough money to buy most of the land in future”.

Like many other farming businesses, the recent drought has affected them.

“The food prices have escalated ridiculously but luckily our breed only eat 2kg per day,” he Makana.

According to Mohapeloa, the piggery still has a long way to go.

“We need to slaughter at least three pigs a day and 90 per month but we are far from that. If we can have 5000 pigs here at the piggery then we would be comfortable,” Mohapeloa says.

“Though we are not able to satisfy our market with our own meat the little that is available makes a huge difference especially during those times when meat is not available in South Africa,”adds Mohapeloa.

Mohapeloa says they started the piggery with large white and landrace pigs but later realised that they had a lot of fat and little meat.

“We bought a top pig and a duroc and ventured into cross breeding. The results were spectacular because it has leaner meat,” Mohapeloa says.

He further saysthey have also discovered that their bred pigs reach maturity quickly and eat less.

“By five or six months our pig already weighs 70-90kgsdespite eating about 2kg only per day,” Mohapeloa says.

Both partners urged Basotho to stop waiting for someone to give them funds to start working on their dreams.

“Usually people wait to have a lot of money before chasing their dreams. They expect to have M5million when they start,” Mohapeloa says.

He says there is nothing “as satisfying like seeing something that you started with nothing but sweat and passion grow on a daily basis and bringing you a step closer to your ultimate dream”.

“We had nothing but a dream and the determination to see it materialise into reality. As long as you have passion work hard and you will make it,” Mohapeloa says.

He adds that although they are still far from their ultimate goal they see light at the end of the tunnel.

“When we started the butchery we didn’t even have equipment. The only thing we had was a deep freezer and we had to slaughter about 15 pigs so that we could buy things like the display unit,” Mohapeloa says.

“I recall that we would take the meat to the next butchery to have it sliced because we didn’t have a slicing machine.Our challenges and struggles made us better,” he says.

“We have also learnt that experience is the biggest teacher. Learn as you go, start small and grow gradually.”

They have hired 20 permanent staff and two part time workers for both the piggery and the butchery. The farm has over 200 pigs.

Mohapeloa says they have also trained four people on the proper rearing of pigs and thereafter sold them piglets.

“We have a deal with them that they buy our piglets, rear them and then when they have piglets we buy those piglets and raise them ourselves. We do not want them to struggle like we did in terms of market but if they choose to do otherwise we let them do,” Mohapeloa says.

“We don’t buy pigs from anybody who does not know how to take care of them properly.Even those we sold our pigs, we monitor them to ensure that they are doing what we taught them, we cannot compromise the quality of our product”.

 

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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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