MASERU – Thinking outside the box. That has been the key to success over the years for ’Matokelo Seturumane, the Managing Director of Thaba-Bosiu Risks Solutions.
From a mere claims clerk, Seturumane is now in charge of one of the biggest insurance brokers in Lesotho.
“I had no idea about insurance broking but I learned the job while working there, climbed the ladder and was appointed a director of the company,” Seturumane says.
She was the only woman serving in the company’s board.
Seturumane says she dislikes the phrase ‘woman empowerment’ because it suggests that women are powerless hence the need to give them power.
Women are powerful, she argues.
But for them to be effective, they must think out of the box.
She urges women in business to be focused and persistent.
“Believe in yourselves and everything will fall into place,” Seturumane says.
Seturumane was speaking at the second Lioness of Africa Lean-In Campaign, a continent-wide programme that targets women entrepreneurs.
The programme brings together women in key cities to listen to successful women business brand builders, share their stories, to inspire one another, and to network and connect for business success.
The head of Personal and Business Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, Selloane Tsike, says the bank had set aside M1.9 million to boost businesses owned and run by women.
Tsike says the idea is to get women out of the gorge of poverty and enable them to start businesses.
“The initiative is meant to inspire young women and those that are aspiring to be entrepreneurs,” Tsike says.
“The Lioness of Africa was launched (in Lesotho) last year to create economic empowerment,” she says.
Tsike says the bank realised that for women to contribute to the growth of the economy, they need support.
She says the bank wants to give women a platform to share the challenges they have while they build each other.
“The bank says Africa is our home and (these women) drive its growth,” she says.
Tsike urged the women to connect with each other, share business ideas and experiences with the motive to build big businesses that will be all over Africa or maybe worldwide.
The initiative is one of investing in women of Lesotho, she says.
The Chief Executive Officer of Lioness of Africa, Melanie Hawken, says she has been an entrepreneur for the past 35 years and has learnt that access to markets is one of the challenges faced by women across the continent.
Several prominent but small businesswomen managers told stories of their successes and the challenges they passed when they started businesses.
A former principal secretary, ’Malerato Khoeli, who is now running the Riverside Fresh Farm Produce, says she quit the civil service to start a business after she realised the future lay in agriculture.
Khoeli started a small agricultural business in 2014 while she was still a civil servant.
“There is a market and there has always been. Now my business has grown seven times bigger,” Khoeli says.
“I have employed 10 people and this means I am making a difference in the economy,” she says.
She says her dream is to grow bigger and be able to supply the whole of Lesotho with pork, chicken and eggs.
Over the last four year she has worked on the project without any salary, paying workers only, until this year when she started paying herself.
The Technical Director of TP Technologies and Co-Founder, Baile Seakhoa, says it is gratifying to notice that women are slowly being recognised in the country.
Unlike other women, she decided to do something that most women find challenging – Information Technology.
“I did different courses abroad until I reached where I always wanted. I came back into the country when it was led by the military regime. There was peace then,” Seakhoa says.
Seakhoa applied for a job and gained experience at Telecom Lesotho.
She also tried many other business ventures like poultry but her passion was always in Information Technology.
While working at Telecom Lesotho, she formed TP Technologies which has been running for six years now.
She says her “vision was to see Lesotho advancing in many ways related to ICT”.
She encouraged women to spend little time sleeping but more time working because a lot happens while they are sleeping.
A board member at Standard Lesotho Bank, ’Mannete Ramaili, says she will be very happy if one woman’s bank account is equal to those of four men.
“I learned also that money is not a problem, what is needed is technical skills and perseverance,” Ramaili says.
World Bank pledges M2.1 billion to Lesotho
MASERU – THE World Bank has pledged US$120 million (about M2.1 billion) for new projects in Lesotho for the coming year.
This revelation was made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Lejone Mpotjoane at a press conference in Maseru yesterday.
Mpotjoane said the World Bank will visit Lesotho in January to look into the issues of project management, public financial management, government accountability, contracts management and procurement management.
“The World Bank raised a concern that the implementation of the projects is slow and in most cases behind schedule,” Mpotjoane said.
This came after Lesotho’s delegation led by Prime Minister Sam Matekane attended the US-Africa leaders’ summit in Washington in the United States last week.
Mpotjoane said the Summit was held to discuss how heads of government, officials, business leaders, and civil society could strengthen ties between the US and
“One of the important issues discussed at the summit included good governance, democracy, human rights and rule of law,” he said.
The summit also discussed mitigating the impact of Covid-19 and future pandemics and strengthening regional and global health, promoting food security, advancing peace and security, responding to the climate crisis and amplifying diasporaties.
Mpotjoane said the United States also pledged at least US$55 billion (about M935 billion) to Africa over the next three years, spanning across a range of diverse sectors.
“The US further pledged to lend up to US$21 million (about M493 million) through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for low and middle-income African countries,” Mpotjoane said.
He said the US Trade Representative signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to support institutions to accelerate sustainable economic growth across Africa.
He said Matekane also met the Chief Executive Officer of the American Peace Corps, Thomas Peng.
He said the US had suspended its Peace Corps operations in Lesotho due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And after the meeting, the Peace Corps has undertaken to send over 50 volunteers to Lesotho.
Mpotjoane said Matekane also met the World Bank Group Vice-President, Victoral Kwakwa.
He said during the meeting, Matekane and his delegation stressed the commitment of Lesotho to work with both the World Bank and IMF institutions as key bilateral and multilateral partners to get Lesotho on a sustainable broad-based and inclusive growth path.
He said Matekane also met the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Ron Wyden.
He said Matekane met the Chair of the Africa Sub-Committee, Senator Van Hollen, who was impressed to consider an extension of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) beyond 2025.
“The extension of AGOA will secure and create thousands of jobs in the manufacturing sector,” Mpotjoane said.
Matekane last Saturday tweeted that the secretary general of AFCFTA fully supports and wants to be part of developmental activity for Africa.
“Lesotho delegation led by myself met with his team and discussed assistance of AFCFTA in some of Lesotho government’s development activity,” Matekane said.
Early Christmas for MMB clients
MASERU – CHRISTMAS came early for two of Maluti Mountain Brewery (MMB)’s clients after they walked away with Nissan NP200 vehicles for promoting excellence in sales in their businesses.
The prize-giving ceremony was held in Maseru on Tuesday.
The MMB further distributed M1.5 million to its clients this year in a bid to increase its sales.
The winners of the two Nissan NP200 cars are Katleho Khuto, a tavern owner from Mohale’s Hoek, and Libe Mapane, an owner of an off-sales, who won in the gold category.
The silver category winner is ’Nokoane Rankhasa who runs an off-sales while in the bronze category the winner is Letšoala Letšoala, also running an off-sales.
Khuto said this was the first time he had participated in the competition.
He said he had been working hard to perform well in business.
“I am not only selling to clients in the tavern but I also deliver the stock to my clients,” he said.
He said this kind of business has the potential to grow.
“It just requires good capital and good customer service,” he said.
Khuto said the prize money will help him to stock his tavern.
“I have been hiring people’s cars. Therefore, this will help to minimize my costs,” he said.
The MMB Sales Manager, Pusetso Thoala, said this programme started last year.
He said due to the Covid-19 pandemic many businesses collapsed and they want to help them recover.
Thoala said due to Covid, they saw it befitting to include all kinds of businesses in this sector.
Then they decided to include taverns and shebeens in the competition since they take a bigger fraction in the industry.
Thoala said the competition seeks to motivate businesses in this sector to work hard.
He said if businesses work hard, this will increase more sales hence improving MMB operations.
“We are seeking to reach even the districts,” he said.
Last year MMB put aside M2.4 million for this competition with 800 business owners participating in the programme.
A staggering M793 000 was awarded to customers who exceeded targets.
“We are offering two cars this year,” he said.
Thoala said this year they will focus on helping a higher number of business owners with renovation projects.
Thoala said they have three categories being gold, silver and bronze where in the category of gold, they will be offering a Nissan MP200 car model.
MMB believes this will motivate business owners to increase their sales.
Thoala said this is not only benefiting MMB but also business owners due to increased profits.
A Mohale’s Hoek businessman who did not want to be mentioned said the competition was fair.
He said this kind of celebration should not only be about collecting the prizes but it should be used for networking between stakeholders as well.
He said he was expecting the business owners to be given a slot to discuss their challenges and strengths so that the sector could grow.
Sweets that clear your sore throat
ROMA – WHEN you have a sore throat, maybe due to common cold, you allow these candies to melt in your mouth.
They are not just sweet, they are also soothing.
“That’s because we’ve got measured amounts of wild mint, honey and lemon in there,” said Joalane Mohale who produces these sweets at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub.
With these sweets, you clear your sore throat, fever and a cough.
The story starts in 2019 — in fact it starts earlier than that.
“That’s when my teammates and I were busy making and selling packaged teas out of various medicinal plants,” Mohale said.
Business was good.
People just loved their teas.
It is not surprising because the tea itself came in all kinds of versions.
The ingredients ranged from corn silk, to olives and mint, from Artemisia (lengana), to eucalyptus (boleikomo) and numerous other plants.
So people would come from all walks of life to tell them how the catalogue of teas they took to the markets was helping them.
One would say they assist with a headache, another would cite period pains, another would mention fever, flu, sore throats, all kinds of ailments.
It was something worth celebrating, with one exception.
These people were almost always adults.
There were simply no youths and children in the audience.
It dawned on Mohale that perhaps their products were not reaching the broader market.
What would they do?
“When we sat down and thought hard about it, we came to a conclusion that the way we delivered these soothing plants were simply not in the interest of the young.”
You hardly ever see young people sitting down and enjoying a cup of tea.
But we all know that they delight in munching sweets of all kinds.
So what if they used the same stuff they were putting in tea in the sweets?
It could be a brilliant idea.
So she started.
That was back in 2019.
The making of sweets might sound easy.
After all sweets are sweets, isn’t it?
She would soon learn what other seasoned manufacturers of anything have learned before her.
That manufacturing, no matter what it is you are manufacturing, is hard.
One experienced manufacturer likes to say “what people don’t seem to understand is that manufacturing is not so much about the product as it is about the process of making that product”.
The process, that’s the hard part.
But she tried it any way.
“I kept failing until I decided it was time to consult someone who was already in the business.”
The person consulted was ready to assist.
She opened up about what sweets really were.
She talked about different kinds of sweets and how each kind differed from another.
She told her that only certain kinds of sweets would be suitable for the kind of stuff she wanted to do.
She got back encouraged to try.
“You won’t believe it,” she said.
“Even with all that information, it would take another four months for me to be able to nail the sweets to my satisfaction.”
In the beginning, the sweets just collapsed a few days after being put together.
When she fixed that, then came another problem.
The sweets just went bad every two weeks or so.
She kept her experiments alive until she was able to solve the problems.
“One of the things I realised was the importance of accuracy,” she said.
“You have to be extremely accurate with measurements.”
You get a small thing wrong, the whole system collapses.
Among the ingredients in the sweets is a wild mint.
Basotho are known to have depended on wild mint to fight cold since time immemorial.
“Many would put it in their nostrils in times of flu or other stuff and it was celebrated for its effectiveness.”
Scientists have noted that mints can soothe upset stomach and ease colds, flu, fever, headaches, and sinus congestion.
Another candidate is honey—that magic food.
A CNN report says “researchers said honey was (found to be) more effective in relieving the symptoms of cold and flu-like illnesses than the usual commercial remedies”.
As if that was not enough already, she added lemon.
Listen to what some scientists have to say about lemon: “Lemons are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids that work together against flu and cold infections”.
Well, with the three in one, you are ready to munch your way out of most annoying flus and colds.
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