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The self-made entrepreneur

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MASERU – WHEN Maine Maine was forced to drop out of university due to lack of fees, he was dejected but not defeated.
Today, the 27-year-old moves in the circles of Lesotho’s business leaders – a sign of how determination to succeed paid off for a man who grew up in poverty and at one time seemed destined for perpetual paucity.
Maine, from Leribe district, has grown from being a tuck-shop owner to becoming the boss of one of the most identifiable supermarkets in Maseru.
Maine is the Chief Executive Officer and the brains behind the rapidly growing Enrich Store, a company wholly owned by Basotho and its shelves are stocked with Basotho produce.

The second born in a family of four siblings, Maine was raised by a single parent. He explains that he has been working hard so that his dreams can come into existence since high school.
His mother was working as a housemaid. Since the age gap between him and his siblings is narrow, there was a time where they were all in high school.
“She had to pay all our fees, and then also look for money to pay for food and other living expenses. It was hard to survive,” Maine said.
Maine says he would work hard to obtain good grades when he was at Hlotse High School in hopes that a good education could help pull his family out of poverty.

“My dream was to be an engineer like the other hard workers who graduated from the school,” he told thepost.
In 2012, after passing his Form E, he applied to the National University of Lesotho (NUL) where he enrolled in the BSc General programme in 2013.
“My wish was to further my studies at Wits University in South Africa so I had to at least complete the first year of studies at the NUL or at least go to Machabeng for a bridging programme,” he said.
Maine said he was admitted at Wits University in 2014, and he officially withdrew from NUL.

“Since I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I had to save throughout the whole of the 2013/2014 academic year so that I could be able to go to Wits University,” he recalled.
Normally, students who were moving from Lesotho’s universities had to pay at least 50 percent of their loan to the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) and they were allowed to pay it in installments.
However, in 2014, he said they were expected to pay the 50 percent at one go.

“I took all my savings to pay the NMDS. However, the money was not enough. I had to pay for medical aid costing M4 000,” Maine said, adding that he was given a month to raise the money.
He said he started knocking on many doors asking for financial assistance and only managed to get M2 000 from his high school teacher.
He said when the deadline passed, authorities gave him a grace period but he still failed to raise that outstanding M2 000.

Maine said it was too late for registration when he eventually raised the money so his dream fell by the wayside.
“However, I still believed that I could still go to the university the following year so I went home to do some business so that I could raise the money for the following year,” said Maine, who needed about M10 000 to enroll for the upcoming academic year.
“I started with a tuck-shop where I was selling airtime, M-Pesa and accessories.”

His tuck-shop was generating about M70 profit a day.
Instead of saving the profits, Maine said he went on investing his money to open other tuck-shops until he had four of them in different places.
“I believe in investing more than saving,” he said.
He adds he was generating a profit of about M360 a day.
Maine said to widen his financial base, he started teaching high school students privately in the evenings and during weekends, helping them with different subjects, especially Mathematics.
He said he had about 250 students and each was paying M25 per month.

“I was making about M6 000 per month.”
He also compiled all the question papers and their answers to come up with a consolidated compilation.
The compilation was so much in demand that he went further to compile one for Mathematics in BSc together with his former classmates.
Maine said looking at the money he was generating, “I decided not to go to school anymore the following year and the love for business gradually grew”.

He said, with the little he had, he would buy data so that he could research more on how to make money.
He said he would research big companies, then conduct deeper research focusing on how they generate their profits and their contribution to the economy.
He said he then found out that the retail sector had the potential to stir up the economy.
“That is where the idea of Enrich was born,” he said.
Maine said he found that most of the big companies are not owned by individuals but by a wide range of shareholders.

He then established Enrich.
“It takes time to single-handedly raise the huge capital but if we come together, we will not only be able to raise the huge capital within a very short period of time but also broaden the ideas and skills to establish stable businesses,” he said.
Maine said their main objective of establishing the company was to contribute to economic growth through the creation of jobs and support local producers to market their products.

He said he realised that there are more creative producers in the country which are still struggling to market their items and ideas.
“If we are able to help them, we will not only be able to create jobs in the Enrich stores but for the local producers hence grow our economy,” he said.
Maine said after establishing the idea in 2019 together with one of his colleagues, Refuoe Monaheng who is the deputy CEO of Enrich, they then had to market the idea and look for investors.
He said around June 2019, they registered the company and continued with the marketing to raise more money.

“We then found a place to rent where we were asked to pay three months’ rent upfront, which was around M400 000. We used the money which we were raising to pay the rent, which was a risky move,” he said.
They ended up paying about M1 million in rentals and salaries before the operation could start, he said.
Maine said they continued marketing the business idea until they raised about M7 million before they could commence operations.
“The capital increased to this point because we had to pay the rent for about eight months before the operation could start,” he said.

Maine mentions that the business has now grown into a medium sized venture, with their outlets also operating butchery and bakery sections.
“We have created about 70 jobs so far and we have about more than 100 local suppliers working with us,” he said, noting that they are now supplying big businesses such as Stadium Food Court.
“The business is in a stable position now,” he said.
He said the team of shareholders includes experts in different fields, which makes the business more stable and reduces the expenses of sourcing expertise from outside when the need arises.

“This business has the potential to grow within a very short period of time since we are now generating profits,” he said.
However, Maine said it was not easy to sit down with each and every person for more than an hour to convince them to buy into the idea.
“Bearing in mind that most of the people we were trying to lure were the victims of forex scams, convincing them to be part of our idea was not an easy thing,” he said.
He said they plan to expand their business to other districts, including establishing a presence at high volume malls “within a very short space of time”.

Maine said Basotho should learn how to work in collaboration instead of opening small businesses individually.
He also urged people earning low salaries and the unemployed to pool their resources and buy shares in local companies.
“I have realised that shares are mostly bought by people who already have money and this is increasing inequality. People should invest the little they have so that they can earn more,” he said.
“Even the Bible says the person who has nothing, even the little that he has will be taken away from him,” he said.

Refiloe Mpobole

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Directorate suspends applications to build access roads

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MASERU – THE Roads Directorate has suspended applications for the building of access roads to businesses and private homes along several main roads in Maseru.

The Directorate told a press conference on Friday that several businesses and filling stations including private homes along the main roads in the city will be affected.

The Directorate’s Director of Road Network Learning, Khasapane Kikine, said they are yet to talk to the owners of the buildings about the development.

Roads from which businesses and private homes alongside them could possibly need access roads include the Kingsway from the main traffic circle to Basotho Shield where it joins the Mpilo Boulevard.

The other road is A1, generally referred to as the Main North 1, from the main traffic circle to the National Abattoir in Khubetsoana.

Also the A2, known as the Main South 1, from the main traffic circle to Masianokeng will be affected.

The other road is A6, Moshoeshoe Road, from the main traffic circle through the Maseru West Industrial Area to where it joins Kofi Annan Road in Ha-Hoohlo.

The entire A7, Kofi Annan Road, which is from Ha-Hoohlo passing through Thetsane Industrial Area to Masianokeng is also not open for access roads to connect to it.

The B20 Road, from Thabong Circle to Lakeside traffic lights, is also another road from which buildings on its sides will not connect access roads until further notice.

The B21, from Ha-Motšoeneng to Ha-Makhoathi, the B31, which is called Lancers’ Road from Mookoli to Ha-Tšosane, the B311 in Florida to where it joins the Old TY Road (B31) that runs through

Naleli to Ha-Foso and the B60, from Seputana via Lesotho Agricultural College to Maqalika Dam are roads that will be affected.

The suspension of applications started yesterday.

Kikine said the suspension will last until the Ministry of Local Government has completed the Land Use Plan (Maseru 2050 Master Plan) or when the Roads Directorate has completed a review of the design guidelines.

Kikine said the main reason to the suspension is the increased volumes of storm water run-offs causing drainage blockages due to new access roads.

“This causes rapid deterioration of the road pavement layers which leads to development of potholes,” Kikine said.

“The current design guidelines prohibit access within a space of 500 minimums and 600 maximums respectively depending on factors of the land available.”

He said the problem is caused by increased level of traffic disruptions by traffic trails into businesses, which disrupts traffic flow.

Kikine said high level of encroachment by businesses causes loading and on and off-loading in the road reserve, which disrupts traffic flow.

He said this has increased accidents due to reduced sight distances caused by encroachments.

“The Roads Directorate has reached a decision that all existing filling stations along these roads should be re-configured to serve uni-directional traffic, as a result eliminating all right turning movements,” he said.

“As the Roads Directorate we have approached owners of the filling stations and talked to them, but we are still going to meet with them again and discuss in details the suspension of roads and how their businesses are going to be affected and whether they are willing to work hand-in-hand with us.”

Tholoana Lesenya

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2 more students win scholarships from Letšeng Diamonds

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MASERU – TWO more Basotho students last Friday received full scholarships to study mining related courses from Letšeng Diamonds.

Neo Metsing will study for a BSc Honours in Geology while Lekunutu Letela will enroll for a National Diploma in Millwright.

Letšeng Diamonds will foot the bill for their studies.

The duo joins Relebohile Malebo, Tšepo Molongoana, Sebongile Motseki, and Lebellang Tšephe who are already benefiting from the scholarships.

Phutheho Maphatšoe and Matlali Seutloali are expected to graduate soon.

Letšeng Diamonds’ boss, Kelebone Leisanyane, said each student “deserves a pat on the back for making it through the rigorous selection process of this prestigious scholarship”.

“I am confident that the level of academic guidance and support that they will receive while studying will be fulfilling and enriching,” Leisanyane said.

Leisanyane said the recipients should be grateful to their parents, guardians and their teachers for nurturing their intellectual and academic talents.

“My humble plea to you is that upon completion of your studies, you should come back and serve your communities and this nation,” he said.

“The skills and knowledge you would have acquired are needed to grow and develop the diamond mining industry in this country. I wish you the very best as you commence this important journey in your life.”

Letšeng Diamonds (Pty) Ltd said it is committed to providing scholarships to deserving Basotho in response to the need for critical skills and expertise in the diamond mining sector.

Scholarships are offered to students currently studying or interested in pursuing tertiary qualifications that are related to the development of the country’s mineral resources.

Every year, prospective students and future mining professionals from all over Lesotho are invited to apply for the scholarship.

Then a competitive and rigorous selection process follows.

The company said in the end, not only the best candidates are selected “but people who will be ambassadors of the company and the nation as a whole”.

To make sure that the students are ready for the job market, a two-year internship is offered at Letšeng Diamonds after completion of studies.

The mine says this is done to equip students with necessary skills and experience.

Permanent employment is offered to top performing students at the internship programme.

Since the inception of the Letšeng scholarships in 2006, scholarships have been awarded to 45 young Basotho, 25 of whom have been employed full-time at the mine.

The educational scholarships form part of Letšeng’s corporate social responsibility and investment programme.

The company says the aim of the programme is to foster social and economic development that will sustain communities beyond the life of the mine.

On behalf of all students, Neo Metsing said they are very grateful to Letšeng that they were able to further their studies.

She said if it was not for Letšeng they would have not have been able to study outside the country.

Natural Resources Minister, Mohlomi Moleko, said “one gets to be successful when preparedness meets opportunities”.

“We live in an infinite world and every single thought in this world can be transformed into its physical equivalent,” Moleko said.

He said he is happy for all students and wished them well.

Tholoana Lesenya

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2 more students win scholarships from Letšeng Diamonds

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on

MASERU – TWO more Basotho students last Friday received full scholarships to study mining related courses from Letšeng Diamonds.

Neo Metsing will study for a BSc Honours in Geology while Lekunutu Letela will enroll for a National Diploma in Millwright.

Letšeng Diamonds will foot the bill for their studies.

The duo joins Relebohile Malebo, Tšepo Molongoana, Sebongile Motseki, and Lebellang Tšephe who are already benefiting from the scholarships.

Phutheho Maphatšoe and Matlali Seutloali are expected to graduate soon.

Letšeng Diamonds’ boss, Kelebone Leisanyane, said each student “deserves a pat on the back for making it through the rigorous selection process of this prestigious scholarship”.

“I am confident that the level of academic guidance and support that they will receive while studying will be fulfilling and enriching,” Leisanyane said.

Leisanyane said the recipients should be grateful to their parents, guardians and their teachers for nurturing their intellectual and academic talents.

“My humble plea to you is that upon completion of your studies, you should come back and serve your communities and this nation,” he said.

“The skills and knowledge you would have acquired are needed to grow and develop the diamond mining industry in this country. I wish you the very best as you commence this important journey in your life.”

Letšeng Diamonds (Pty) Ltd said it is committed to providing scholarships to deserving Basotho in response to the need for critical skills and expertise in the diamond mining sector.

Scholarships are offered to students currently studying or interested in pursuing tertiary qualifications that are related to the development of the country’s mineral resources.

Every year, prospective students and future mining professionals from all over Lesotho are invited to apply for the scholarship.

Then a competitive and rigorous selection process follows.

The company said in the end, not only the best candidates are selected “but people who will be ambassadors of the company and the nation as a whole”.

To make sure that the students are ready for the job market, a two-year internship is offered at Letšeng Diamonds after completion of studies.

The mine says this is done to equip students with necessary skills and experience.

Permanent employment is offered to top performing students at the internship programme.

Since the inception of the Letšeng scholarships in 2006, scholarships have been awarded to 45 young Basotho, 25 of whom have been employed full-time at the mine.

The educational scholarships form part of Letšeng’s corporate social responsibility and investment programme.

The company says the aim of the programme is to foster social and economic development that will sustain communities beyond the life of the mine.

On behalf of all students, Neo Metsing said they are very grateful to Letšeng that they were able to further their studies.

She said if it was not for Letšeng they would have not have been able to study outside the country.

Natural Resources Minister, Mohlomi Moleko, said “one gets to be successful when preparedness meets opportunities”.

“We live in an infinite world and every single thought in this world can be transformed into its physical equivalent,” Moleko said.

He said he is happy for all students and wished them well.

Tholoana Lesenya

Continue Reading
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