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Varsity plants seeds of entrepreneurship

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MASERU – WANT to start a business? Then just go ahead and do it.

That is the simple advice from the Senior Academic Manager at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology ’Mateboho Moorosi. Moorosi was speaking at the Limkokwing University’s Entrepreneurship Day last week.

“People should make use of their phones since now people focus more on their phones,” Moorosi said, adding such devices can be used for advertising.
One does not need a million maloti to start a business, she said.

She said the university students must grab opportunities to start businesses rather than walk the streets of Maseru looking for jobs.

“Instead they should open their own businesses and employ others to help in the growth of the country’s economy,” Moorosi said.

He said the university also shapes them to create connections with industries. The Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (Bedco)’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Access to Finance Expert, ’Mahalieo Nyanguru, said they have created opportunities for young people to start their own businesses as a way of improving or bettering their lives.

Nyanguru said they also do this as a way of alleviating poverty as well as a way of decreasing the unemployment rate in Lesotho. Nyanguru said they are happy that the Limkokwing University had invited them to the day.

She said as Bedco they incubate small businesses so that they can grow bigger and also support them to have access to the market and finance.

“If one wants to start a business then our door is widely open to offer training and also for consultation,” Nyanguru said.

She said Limkokwing University “does a good job to train its students on ways to start businesses”.

’Mateboho Makara, who is the client services representative from the First National Bank (FNB), said their doors are always open to assist people with loans to start businesses. Makara said if one wants a loan they should have a vision of their business so that they cannot misuse the loan and then struggle to pay it back.

She also said they have ATM facilities that minimises charges for small businesses, since they noticed that people want to start their businesses for a living. She said the bank has donated a million maloti to help small businesses that were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phomotso Sematlane, the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC)’s Investment Promotion Officer, said the LNDC is the main parastatal of the government charged with the implementation of the country’s industrial development policies.

Sematlane said Limkokwing University “does exactly what the country does, in the growth of the economy”.

“You are training them to open their own businesses and help them create job opportunities,” Sematlane said.

She said it’s high time students start having a vision of their businesses because they are there to assist them.

Rapitso Thabeng from the Ministry of Education said the ministry’s role is to see everyone who graduated from the Limkokwing University opening their own businesses to end poverty.
Advocate Tefo Macheli, the vice-chancellor at Limkokwing University, said the entrepreneurship day is a big day for the university.

“The Lesotho government used to spend a lot of money to take students abroad therefore the LUCT has to fill the gap to open the school for them,” Macheli said.

The registrar, Moroka Hoohlo, said as a university they believe that what they are doing is to shape students to open their own businesses once they complete their studies. He said the university trains them to have self-esteem to start their own businesses.

“They should not worry about the high rate of unemployment,” Hoohlo said.

Sebabatso Mothabeng

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Jalad Africa wins top exporter award

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MASERU – LEATHERWORKS exporter, Jalad Africa, was yesterday recognised as Lesotho’s number one exporter at a function organised by the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), Lesotho Post Bank and USAID Trade Hub.

The awards, celebrated yesterday in Maseru, were meant to empower local exporters. Jalad Africa, a Basotho owned company, was recognised as the exporter of the year.

Local exporters were awarded under the categories of best emerging exporter, best exporter for market and product diversification and best exporter in market sustainability. The best emerging exporter award was won by Garal Africa while the best exporter for market went to Centimetre.

Under the category of the most innovative and versatile exporter and high impact exporter, Leafglow and Liberation clothing were recognised as the winners. The LNDC set aside M45 000 for all the winners where the overall winner got M10 000 and the rest in their respective categories received M7 000 each.

The Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Dr Francis Sefali, said there are a number of initiatives such as the 2019/2025 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Response Strategy.

He said the 2021/2025 National Export Strategy has been adopted by the government to increase exports and instigate product diversification to tie well with the objectives of this initiative.

“As a small country, we need to aim higher and go beyond our borders to international markets,” Dr Sefali said.

“Our prosperity as a country unquestionably depends on that,” he said.

Dr Sefali said Lesotho’s exports to the United States may have marginally decreased in 2020, and exports to South Africa increased.

“This is a demonstration that the exporters’ contribution registered a noticeable success even in the face of adversity,” he said.

“This exhibits the versatility and competence to respond to various challenges.”

Dr Sefali said we have to be aware, however, of the possibility of continuing to experience a host of uncertainties that we may not even be able to predict how they will affect us in future, citing Covid-19 example.

“We need to stay vigilant and invest in sectors that will make us more competitive in these markets even without the market access preferences that we are fortunately beneficiaries to.”

The LNDC Acting General Manager of Corporate Service, ’Mamoiloa Raphuthing, urged local exporters to conform to buyers’ standards and specifications to improve their global export competitiveness.

She further urged the local exporters to understand target market requirements, list export products in relevant e-commerce platforms and participate in relevant trade promotion events.

“It is crucial for local exporters to create business networks and connections and acquire deal negotiation skills,” Raphuthing said.

Raphuthing said this platform allows the participating exporters to assess themselves for export readiness and in turn adopt tools to improve their business performance.

“This national competition is only a stepping stone into a regional competition,” she said.

The Director of Jalad Africa, Lebeoana Matsimane, said this has not been a happy year for Jalad Africa, however, they feel like this is the happy ending. He said the company has been through a rough patch which was triggered by Covid-19 pandemic however, they have been standing.

“Despite all this, we are elevating our company to the Amazon platform very soon,” Matsimane said.

Speaking at the event, the United States Embassy’s acting Chargé d’Affaires, Keisha Toms-Boutaleb, said the US supported the development of the AGOA Utilisation Strategy for Lesotho, which was launched in January 2020.

This was meant to increase exports from Lesotho to the United States under AGOA by at least five percent per year for the next five years.

“Today, we are seeing some fantastic results from the companies represented here,” Toms-Boutaleb said.

Refiloe Mpobole

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Mines Minister pushes empowerment for Basotho

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MASERU – THE Minister of Mining Serialong Qoo says he is working hard to create a new generation of Basotho millionaires in the mining industry.

Qoo said this last week at a mining indaba with Basotho who want to mine diamonds on a small-scale following the enactment of the Small Scale Mining Act last year. He said their goal is to see Basotho engage in mining activities on a large scale.

“We want to ensure that more Basotho own shares in large scale mining,” he said.

Qoo said they fought long and hard to ensure that the Act was passed in parliament, He said they also hope to create more jobs in the mining sector. Qoo said during the Covid-19 lockdown, the mining industry contributed more revenue towards the economy of Lesotho.

“We realised that it has the potential of spurring the economy,” he said.

He said they realised that after Basotho were denied the chance to mine on a small-scale some decades ago, the industry’s contribution to the economy declined.

“It is crucial for Basotho to make a living out of their minerals,” he said.

“Hence we are announcing this Act as effective,” he said, adding that Basotho can now start mining on a small-scale.

He said they will work with different ministries, departments and councils to ensure that Basotho acquire licences. He said this is open to every Mosotho.

The registration to acquire the licences will be conducted by the councils and village chiefs. He said they will go around all the districts of Lesotho to identify places where they can locate Basotho. He said the ministry will further conduct training programmes for such Basotho who hold licences.

Qoo said all the diamonds mined by Basotho will be collected for auction in the country. Diamonds mined at a grander scale in the country are exported to Antwerp, Belgium, for auctioning.

“We are working hard to ensure that all the minerals are auctioned in the country, including those from large-scale mining,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Lesotho Diamond Academy, Relebohile Molefe, appealed to Basotho to allow this new venture to be led by the youths. She said this has been his late father’s dream to see leaders engaging Basotho in this industry without political favours.

The late Mpalipali Molefe, who was the All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s ’Maliepetsane MP, is remembered for his passion for diamond beneficiation when he started the Lesotho Diamond Academy.

A small scale miner, Lebohang Ramone, said it has been more than 15 years since Basotho were denied a chance to mine on a small scale. He said they have been fighting for the enactment of a law that would allow small-scale mining.

“The struggle continued until the issue was politicised,” Ramone said.

However, he said the sad truth about this is that there are more Basotho who are being killed each day in the illegal mines in South Africa. He mentioned the case of an old Mosotho woman who was caught mining in South Africa yet Lesotho is rich in minerals.

“This was so unfair to Basotho,” he said.

He applauded the hard work done by Qoo to ensure that the diamonds are auctioned in the country.

Refiloe Mpobole

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Business IDs for Lesotho

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MASERU – ALL businesses operating in Lesotho will now be required to register with the Ministry of Trade to acquire a Business Licensing Identity Document (ID). The requirement to register is contained in the Business Licencing and Registration Act 2019 and Registration Regulations of 2020.

The business ID will help, among other things, to identify Basotho-owned businesses so that they can receive preferential treatment. Foreign-owned businesses will also be required to register so that it will be easy for the authorities to monitor them for compliance with relevant laws.

The Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the Ministry of Trade held a workshop in Maseru on Tuesday to sensitise businesses about the requirement. The Maseru District Administrator (DA), Mpane Nthunya, said local businesses have been complaining for years about unfair treatment with foreign businesses.

He said this is why the LCCI has embarked on an initiative to listen and address the challenges for local businesses. The President of LCCI, Ntaote Seboka, said the new regulation “will affect all entrepreneurs regardless of their business class including the foreigners”.

“This regulation will further affect the businesses which are operating illegally,” Seboka said.

He said for an entrepreneur to be registered under this new regulation, there will be inspections conducted to ensure that such an entrepreneur has all necessary documents to be running a business. Seboka said they realised that there are more businesses operating illegally hence they fought to ensure that the Act is implemented.

He said the registration of businesses under this law will act as a catalyst to reduce the rate at which foreigners are operating without following legal processes. Advocate Tšeli Lehohla said the Business Licensing and Registration Act and registration repealed the Trade Enterprises Act.

She said the main objective for this Act is to ensure that the informal sector is included in the business Act. She said most Basotho-owned businesses were affected by Covid-19.

However, the ministry could not help them since they were not registered. The Minister of Public Works, Lebohang Monaheng, on behalf of the Minister of Trade, said the road show which was held by the LCCI together with the Ministry of Trade has enhanced the business environment.

“It is our responsibility to create a conducive environment for businesses in the country,” Monaheng said.

He said the ministry has since realised that most of the businesses are being operated by foreigners, hence it is their responsibility to ensure that Basotho take the lead in the business sector. He said they have selected some businesses of which Basotho are best performing to ensure that the sector is fully run by Basotho, such as logistics.

He appealed to entrepreneurs to collaborate with the ministry to overcome these challenges. The compliance officer, Limpho Makholela, said this new Act aims at facilitating promotion of private sector development through inclusion of all types of businesses into the formal sector.

He said this will help in facilitating the speedy issuing of licenses and registration of businesses. Makholela said the fee for registration is M500 which is renewable after three years for local businesses unless the business or a holder ceases to exist.

However, he said for foreign business the registration is valid for a year. Makholela said the business registration identity card will be used by all public authorities in their dealings with the business enterprises.

He said this will ensure that a business can be easily identified by its business identity number by all public authorities rather than a different number for each authority. He said the regulations provide for reserved business activities which are exclusively reserved for the citizens of Lesotho. He said this will give Basotho an opportunity to grow their businesses in other sectors without fear of facing stiff competition from foreign businesses.

Refiloe Mpobole

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