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When the lionesses of Africa roar!

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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.

Tokase Mphutlane

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Short courses for ex-mineworkers

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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

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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

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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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