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The business of soap



ROMA – AFTER two years of intensive studies, three National University of Lesotho (NUL) Chemical Technology graduates, Lesia Matlali, Setlhare Jane and ’Marethabile Jane, have developed a low cost high quality natural soap. The moringa soap, dubbed Mohalalitoe, taking from an ancient flower next to the hearts of many Basotho — and the soap is ready for sale upon ordering.
But, look! This is how you fit in — these folks are ready to teach you how to make your own customised soap in the next few days in Maseru!
They believe that the more people can make soap in Lesotho, the merrier.  Why, on earth, should we import tons of low quality soap from abroad, while we have the secrets of making high quality soap right here at home? Well, Mohalalitoe is not your normal soap.

Here is why. It is brewed and chiselled carefully with both your skin and your pocket in mind, that’s why it took so long to develop — in case you were wondering!
Talking about your “skin and pocket,” you will note one thing about your average soap-maker. You see, your average soap-maker has not learned the secret of balancing the two (skin and pocket).
Mind you! The art of soap-making has been known since the good old days. Of course balancing the “skin and pocket” is no picnic.

“So we understand the predicament faced by average soap-makers!” Lesia says. Here is the catch: good natural soaps for your skin are too expensive. “But cheaper soaps have poor properties for your skin,” Sethlare says. However, you, the honorable consumer, want neither of the two alternatives—it is a catch 22 situation.
Rather, here’s what you want. Good quality! At low cost!

That is where Mohalalitoe jumps in, and that is what it promises. Now, let Lesia relates how the journey to NUL’s Mohalalitoe natural soap unfolded: “We first started by developing a model soap then we tailor-made Mohalalitoe specifically for the NUL.” “The beauty of this basic model soap,” he says, “is that once you have it, you can always adapt it to make your own soap version.”
Coming up with the basic model soap was the tricky part. To understand why, you need to know a thing or two about soap itself.

You see, whether you use soap or not is not in question. What is in question is, which soap do you use? Most likely, you use normal chemically-laden glycerin-starved soap (let’s whisper this one, some fanatics say that is not soap at all, they say if it were food, it would be called junk food—but don’t say we told you this).

Okay…., for that look on your face, you may decide not to take our word for it, listen to one such enthusiast, Cheryl McCoy, he will put it better.
“The next time you walk down the soap aisle at your favorite store enjoying the fresh, clean scents and the bright colorful packaging, pay attention.”
“Look at the labels. The vast majority of the products on the shelf don’t say ‘soap’ on their labels. They might be called beauty bars, moisturizing bars, or body bars, but not soap. That’s because these bars aren’t actually soap and can’t legally claim to be, they’re detergents.” Let him finish please!

“The manufacturers have removed most of the ‘good’ stuff that occurs in the soap-making process, and replaced it with synthetic lathering agents and harsh chemicals.”
We told you so, didn’t we? Now you heard it right from the horse’s mouth! Did you hear how they cater for those deficiencies? They provide very good packaging!

Now, listen to Matlali’s insightful view on that one. “In the area of the natural, it is the product, not how it is packaged, that matters,” he says.
“In fact, when we talk the natural, it is not about how much packaging you can get and how fancy it can be. Quite the opposite,” he says.
“It is about how less of the packaging you can have because, really, you don’t hide the genuine behind the fancy, you expose it.”
But anyone schooled in this area will tell you this: there are potholes with the natural route. Natural soap products are expensive—ask those who have tried them.

“When we started our research at the NUL,” Setlhare says, “we were taken aback by the cost of oils used to make natural soap. In fact that factor alone was an immediate turn off.”
So these young folks, surveyed locally available oils, which are available in abundance, and, in a painstaking process, worked on producing natural soap recipes of high quality and low cost, hence Mohalalitoe.

Own Correspondent

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Short courses for ex-mineworkers



THE Lesotho Diamond Academy has introduced mining short courses, particularly to ex-mineworkers, to help them re-enter the mining sector.
The Essential Introductory Courses, which will run for two weeks, will start from June this year. The courses are meant particularly for people who worked in mines in South Africa.

The Academy’s CEO, Relebohile Molefe, unveiled the new courses during the graduation of 18 students last week, four of whom are now armed with Cutting and Polishing certificates while 14 graduated with Rough Diamond Evaluation certificates.

The new courses include the Essential Certificate in Diamond Grading and the Essential Certificate in Diamond Evaluation.

“The decision to offer these courses aligns with the Academy’s dedication to bridge the gap and ensure that individuals with valuable experience can seamlessly reintegrate into the diamond and jewelry industry,” Molefe said.

“By providing short courses, the academy does not only impart essential skills but also contributes to the sector’s growth by reactivating experienced individuals who had lost access to the industry due to no formal documents showing their experience in the industry,’’ she said.

During the graduation celebration, Molefe also unveiled a new sponsorship programme for various courses.

One outstanding student previously sponsored, who demonstrated exceptional proficiency in Rough Diamond Evaluation, was granted a fully funded bursary to further his studies into Advanced Certificate in Round Diamond Brilliantering.

In pursuit of its multifaceted objectives, one of which is to serve as a catalyst for employers in the diamond and jewelry sector to devise skills development strategies, the Academy is set to sponsor four additional students in the upcoming intake starting from February 15.

Two of these bursaries will afford a 30 percent discount on overall fees for two students progressing from Cutting and Polishing to advanced studies in Rough Diamond Evaluation.

Two will be fully funded bursaries to study for a Certificate in Diamond Cutting and Polishing.

Additionally, the institution will extend two fully funded bursaries to the public, fostering inclusivity and expanding opportunities.

The Academy says it plans to announce the search for two deserving Basotho individuals on its social media pages and website.

“Importantly, the bursary programme bears no age restrictions, reflecting a commitment to fairness and inclusiveness, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of age,” it says in a statement.

The Academy says it seeks “to be a dynamic force in shaping the industry, not just within national borders, but also on regional and international platforms”.

“The emphasis on competitiveness within these markets underscores the institution’s commitment to producing graduates who are not only proficient but also globally competitive,” the statement reads.

“The recent graduation ceremony symbolises a milestone in the Academy’s journey. The success of its students is a testament to the quality of education and the foresight embedded in the curriculum.”

The Academy says its decision to sponsor further education for outstanding performers reflects a belief in nurturing talent and contributing to the continuous improvement of the diamond industry.

The Lesotho Diamond Academy was founded by the late Mpalipali Molefe, a prominent educator, diamond trader and an MP, who recognised the imperative to elevate professionalism in the diamond industry.

Staff Reporter

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Bank hands over uniforms to students



THE Lesotho Post Bank donated uniforms to students at Leqele High School worth a staggering M60 000 as part of its Back-To-School campaign.
The bank said it did this “to keep needy children in school and to promote their education”.

A teacher at the school, Tšepo Semethe, said the uniforms will likely motivate the students to work harder in their studies.

Semethe insisted on giving the bank the names of the students so that it could check their performance at the end of the year.

“At Leqele High School, we work very hard because what we want is excellence above all. To us, hard work pays,” he said.

The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Molefi Khama, said they are getting old, they will soon retire and Lesotho Post Bank will be in the hands of these children.

He pleaded with the students to work harder.

“This is why we decided to come here to support the students in their education so that when coming to school, they should be confident,” Khama said.

“We are watching you and waiting on you,” he said.

The school’s head prefect, Tholoana Monatsi, said from now on, “no student will be identified by what they wear”.

“(Lesotho) Post Bank made us one and we thank them for that because what we wear cannot stand before our education. We indeed thank you and forever you will hold special places in our hearts,” she said.

A parent, ’Marorisang Latela, said they were very grateful for the gift from Lesotho Post Bank adding that they must also donate to other schools.

Minister of Trade, Mokethi Shelile, promised to go back to the school to discuss how the children could learn in comfortable surroundings.

Relebohile Tšepe


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Mamello School of Special Needs wins prize



MAMELLO School of Special Needs is the first-place winner of Standard Lesotho Bank’s Scaled-Up Pitching Den held at Maseru Avani on Tuesday.
The school has secured a grand prize for an all-expenses-paid trip to Kenya to participate as a finalist representing Lesotho at the Standard Bank Africa Awards.

The school, pioneered in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic through Zoom classes, deals with children who live with conditions such as autism, attachment disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) dyslexia, Down syndrome and slow learners.

STKTM Solutions claimed the second-place spot, receiving a commendable M10 000, while Masia Farms secured third place and a M5 000 prize.

Pheello Masia of Masia Farms, thanked Standard Lesotho Bank for backing their vision and that of other Basotho entrepreneurs.

He acknowledged that the bank’s faith in their endeavours serves as a source of inspiration, propelling them to work harder and foster growth within the community.

The event, aimed at fortifying support and fostering regional integration for Basotho entrepreneurs across the African continent, showcased the bank’s commitment to driving the growth of Lesotho.

Malatola Phothane, Head of Enterprise Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, set the tone in his welcoming remarks.

“As Standard Lesotho Bank, through business and commercial banking, we strive to turn possibilities into opportunities,” Phothane said.

“Lesotho is our home, and we drive her growth,” he said.

His words resonated with the bank’s dedication to nurturing local talent and fostering economic development.

Phothane acknowledged the eight finalists, commending them for their resilience and passion for their businesses.

He emphasised how each entrepreneur had stood their ground, displaying knowledge and unwavering commitment.

The recognition not only highlighted the achievements of the finalists but also underscored the bank’s role in recognising and uplifting the entrepreneurial spirit within the community.

Aliciah Motšoane, founder of Prestige Furnitures and Sentebale Gap Funeral Services, played a significant role at the event as a motivational speaker, sharing her entrepreneurial journey filled with challenges and triumphs.

She recounted her humble beginnings when she was selling bread in high school, leading to the establishment of Prestige Furnitures in 1998.

Despite facing a significant setback after her shop was burnt down during the riots and incurring a loss of M5 million, Motšoane never gave up.

She said business is always a demanding endeavour adding that it needs hard work and a unique mindset.

She urged entrepreneurs to embrace their roots, seek inspiration, and persevere through challenges.

The keynote speaker, the bank’s Head of Business and Commercial Clients, Keketso Makara, said the bank is committed to foster a thriving business environment, highlighting the pivotal role of youth collaboration across diverse economic sectors.

Makara said their mandate aims to empower youths in steering the private sector towards growth, contributing to economic diversification.

Makara urged the eight finalists to actively involve bankers in refining their proposals for maximum impact on economic stimulation and sustainable development.

The bank said the Scaled-Up Pitching Den not only served as a stage for entrepreneurs to present their ventures but also acted as a driving force for networking, collaboration, and collective empowerment.

Staff Reporter


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