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MASERU – THE Domestic Investment Manager at the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), SemetheRaleche, says it is high time they build smaller factory shells for small Basotho firms.

Raleche was speaking in an interview with thepost after Youth Minister MathibeliMokhothu toured the Johane Garments Manufacturers to inspect the company’s progress after it received sewing machines last October.

Mokhothu visited the company on Monday.

Raleche said the need to build smaller factory shells for small firms springs from realising that “we do not have proper infrastructure for them yet”.

“Most of our factory shells are 1000 square metres and small firms only need about 500 square metres,” Raleche said.

“However we are working hard and hopefully our aim to build them 500square metre shells will materialise in the coming financial year.”

Raleche added that access to finance is still an obstacle because “when they have received big orders they are unable to take them because they do not have the working capital”.

“These two issues are a priority for us,”Raleche said.

Mokhothu’s visit came a year after Johane Garments Manufacturers received a donation of 30 machines in October last year so that they could improve efficiency and meet demand.

Johane Garments Manufacturers is a textile manufacturing company specialising in work wear and safety gear in Maseru.

TšepoJohane,the Managing Director of Johane Garments Manufactures, said although it has not been an easy journey to get to where they are today, they have been able to achieve several things.

“The minister was amazed at the quality of products that we produce but most of all he was surprised that the equipment is still in good condition,” Johane said.

He said since they received the sewing machines they were able to hire 10 more people, thus improving their capacity to better serve their clients without compromising quality.

“We have been able to work hard and move forward for it is far where we are going, we are only at the beginning of our journey hence it is very iraleche-2mportant for us to produce quality products and ensure that all the assistance we have is used accordingly,”Johane said.

Johane Garments Manufacturers is already attracting international buyers after the LNDC introduced it to Africa’s biggest trade exhibition, Source Africa, in June this year.

Johane said “it is all because of the quality of our products” that the company managed to hook up with a big security company in South Africa for the supply of work clothing.

“We are grateful to the Lesotho National Development Corporation that believed in us enough to see us worthy enough to attend that event,”Johane said.

He said so far the local companies have given them huge support.

“So far we have worked with Lesotho Flour Mills, Nthane Brothers and Maseru City Council to name but a few,” Johane said.

“These are part of companies who have believed in us and have decided to work with us,”he said.

He indicated that although they are growing from strength to strength there are still some challenges.

“For instance, we do not have any space left (in our workshop) we cannot accommodate new machines or workers. Our main challenge at the moment is the issue of space, especially for storage,”Johane said.

He saidthe company does not have enough space that can allow them to buy a lot of raw materials so that when the low season comes they will have enough material to use while waiting for their peak season to come.

Johane thanked the Ministry of Youth for assisting them and believing in them.

“We did not only receive help in terms of machines but also in terms of personnel to help us with skills such as accounting, which we do not have and that personnel is being paid by the ministry.For that we are grateful,” he said.

He urgedthe youths not to be discouraged by starting small because as long as they know what they want and work for it they will get there.

“Embrace your struggles, the tears, sweat, disappointments and the failures,” he said, adding:“Build endurance and as long as you want something work hard enough so that all things will inevitably work in your favour.”

“Start small but aim high,”Johane said.

He added that youths in the country should come together and use their various skills to earn a living and let the government help them when they are already in motion.

“It is only through entrepreneurship that our country can get out of the unemployment crisis and we need all stakeholders to partake in that process,”Johane said.

Mokhothu indicated that he was pleased to see that within a year the company had grown so much.

What made Mokhothu happy was the fact that Johane Garments Manufacturers had increased its staff complement and that its equipment was still in good condition.

Mokhothusaid he wants to see Johane Garments Manufacturers’ products penetrating the American, European and Asian markets instead of just being destined to the local region.

Raleche said it is encouraging to see that some initiatives taken by the corporation are finally yielding results.

“It is a very good progress especially when we see young Basotho-owned businesses gaining momentum. It shows that we have potential,”Raleche said.

He said as LNDC they take big and small enterprises to Source Africa to help them identify markets from which to access raw materials suppliers and buyers.

“We are aware that Johane Garments were able to identify a raw materials supplier and also to secure a buyer. This helps them build their footprint in the textile industry and helps them provide timely quality products,”he said.

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Jobs galore for Lesotho

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94 000 jobs.

That is what the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA-Lesotho) will create in the next 10 years, according to Prime Minister Sam Matekane.

The MCA-Lesotho was created by the Lesotho parliament last year after the United States’ Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) found Lesotho eligible to receive development funds.

The MCC gives development grants to poor countries that respects democratic principles and human rights.

The MCC has unlocked a staggering US$322 million (over M5 billion) to the government of Lesotho after the country enacted three laws the protect people’s basic rights this week.

Matekane advised youths to visit MCA-Lesotho offices to understand how best they can benefit from the fund and the projects that will be financed.

The MCC’s investments are aimed at increasing the availability of water for household and industrial use, enhance watershed management and conservation methods, rehabilitate health infrastructure and strengthen health systems, and remove barriers to private investment.

The MCA-Lesotho’s Health and Horticulture Compact seeks to assist the country in unlocking equitable and sustainable economic growth in partnership with the private sector by addressing key constraints to growth.

Matekane said the job creation potential of the horticulture project alone is estimated at 4 000 jobs.

This excludes indirect jobs that will be created through packaging supplies, logistics, cold chain activities as well as the processing of the output.

“Let us all be ready and ensure we spend all the funding that is available,” Matekane said.

He said the money is going to be invested in agriculture, trade and industry, value chains, infrastructure development, tourism and creative sectors.

“The Compact has come at a critical time when the country is in dire need of financial injections to revive the economy,” he said.

“This second Compact forms the core of Lesotho’s private sector-led economic growth, recovery and job creation agenda.”

He said the MCA staff should work diligently, to implement this Compact.

“There are several Basotho businesses out there that are eager to seize the opportunities that the Compact brings,” Matekane said.

“Serve them with integrity, accountability and dedication.”

Matekane said the government has established the Cabinet Sub-Committee on the Compact which is under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Nthomeng Majara.

The sub-committee is mandated to ensure that the government provides overall oversight, strategic direction and support for successful implementation of the Compact.

He said he expects the MCA-Lesotho to ensure the full implementation of the project within the next five years.

“Our economy needs this capital injection to boost productivity and job creation,” Matekane said.

Matekane said the government had to enact three pieces of legislation which were necessary to support the investments that the MCC is making.

The enacted laws are the Labour Code Amendment Bill, the Administration of Estates and Inheritance Bill and the Occupational Safety and Health Bill.

Majara Molupe

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Bank spearheads career expo

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Standard Lesotho Bank will tomorrow host a career expo at the ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre for high school students who will sit for their final exams this year.
The 14th Annual Standard Lesotho Bank Career Expo was launched in Mokhotlong on Monday where the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) welcomed students in areas around the Polihali Dam construction site.

On Tuesday the expo was at the Butha-Buthe Community High School, yesterday it was at Assumption High School in Teya-Teyaneng while today it is in Quthing at Holy Trinity High School.

The five-day nationwide event is dedicated to connecting ambitious Basotho youths with exciting career opportunities.

Standard Lesotho Bank says it’s career expo “is a cornerstone of the bank’s commitment to empowering Basotho youth and shaping the future of Lesotho’s workforce”.

The 2024 edition of the event is the 14th where the bank is now the headline sponsor of this important expo that reaches about over 10 000 students countrywide.

The expo promises to be an even better offering where over 35 institutions of higher learning from Lesotho and South Africa as well as professional bodies will explain different career options to Basotho students.

Standard Lesotho Bank communications manager, Manyathela Kheleli, said students in Mokhotlong did not only learn about different engineering disciplines but got to appreciate engineering in action at Polihali.

He said it was a lifetime experience for students from Mokhotlong, “thanks to the collaboration with LHDA, who are fully responsible for the Polihali leg of the event”.

There were also motivational speakers from different professions in the bank and other selected institutions.

Key influencers in the football fraternity, former Likuena captain and now Corporate Responsibility Manager at Letšeng Diamonds, Tšepo Hlojeng, and former Orlando Pirates dribbling wizard, Steve Lekoelea, are among the influencers that have been invited to address the students.

The event is a sponsorship initiative under Personal and Private Banking that is open to all youths, communities, and individuals, where the bank intends to use this event to drive the new Youth or student Customer Value Proposition and attract high school students to open accounts ahead of their enrolment into tertiary institutions.

The objective of this sponsorship is to first create an environment where future leaders of Lesotho will be nurtured and informed of top career choices that demonstrate various skills requirements for the growth of Lesotho’s economy.

Secondly, the career expo is a clear demonstration of the bank’s intention to put youths at the centre of its initiatives.

This position is shown by the bank’s initiative to not only develop special products for youths, such as the Youth Account but also through several initiatives that promote youth empowerment. These include the bursary scheme and the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project.

“We are more than a bank for our youths, but a good corporate citizen and a partner for the education for Basotho,” Kheleli said.

“We believe that as we grow our youths, they will become assets to this country and by extension, develop into a feeder market for our banking products when they enter the job market,” he said.

The bank has invested M150 000 towards sponsorship of the annual Career Expo.

Staff Reporter

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Ministry launches fresh industrialisation drive

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A new policy to drive industrialisation in Lesotho was launched in Maseru this week.
The Lesotho National Industrialisation Policy 2024–2028 is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Trade.

The ministry says the policy seeks to accelerate economic diversification in the industrial base, enhance productivity and productive capacity for industrialisation and advance domestic and regional value chains for industrialisation.

It also seeks to promote and develop industrial clustering, promote inclusive industrialisation, support entrepreneurship development and strengthen business linkages.
The new policy will also seek to enhance energy efficiency and sustainability, promoting technology adoption and innovation, services-based industrialisation, and stimulating agro-based industrialisation.

This is not the first time Lesotho has launched an industrialisation policy. Previous policies have all failed.

The first attempt was the 2015–2017 industrial policy, whose aim was to accelerate the industrialisation agenda and address key challenges facing the country.

The second one was the 2018–2023 policy, which after its unsuccessful execution during the three years of implementation, the government extended it to the National Strategic Development Plan Strategic Focus (2023/24-2027/28).

The new industrial policy’s target is set to activate implementation on innovation to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of domestic industries, create decent jobs and improve the welfare of Basotho.

Thabo Moleko, the Ministry of Trade Principal Secretary, said the implementation of the new policy is set to deepen economic growth, promote industrialisation and enhance competitiveness.

“The plan includes greater investment in industrial development with the intention to create employment and incomes while building on maintaining the existing industrial trade,” Moleko said.

Mamello Nchake, a consultant for the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA), said the development goals of the industrial policy are set to ensure an achievable inclusiveness and equitable growth as they aim to create sector-led quality jobs for Basotho.

Nchake said the goals are meant to “develop and maintain enabled infrastructure that is critical to the private sectors and also to promote gender equality, environmental and climate risk management”.

“Moreover, the policy (will seek to) harness the collaboration with private sector firms to address common challenges and promote industrialisation,” she said.

The workshop discussed constraints that hindered the implementation of the 2018 – 2023 policy that undermined investment and trade opportunities.

The constraints include access to land for investment, inadequate provision of infrastructure, an outdated and a lack of appropriate regulatory environment, low productive capacity, market size and topological constraints, unstable macroeconomic environment, external factors, and over-dependency of trade preferences.

To address the strategic objectives, the previous industrial policies had proposed tax incentives for industrial development, trade policy and regional integration as the main vehicle for industrialisation and structural transformation.

They had also proposed mechanisms for policy coordination and implementation, institutional alignment and linkages.

However, several key challenges were identified in the implementation of the 2015-2017 industrial policy.

They included limited financial and investment capacity to effectively implement the industrial policy actions.

“Financing instruments are not aligned with the level of development needs of the private sector,” stakeholders heard at the workshop.

They also heard that there is “persistent dependency on few industries that poses risks in the face of global economic uncertainties and ever-changing consumer preferences”.
Another identified problem is limited investment climate that makes it costly for foreign firms to invest in Lesotho.

It was also observed that a shortage of specialised education and skills crucial for growth of industries impact the ability of firms to adopt advanced technologies and improve productivity and the productive capacity.

Stakeholders also heard that there is limited global competitiveness and access to global markets.

Lesotho’s industries, they heard, particularly textiles and garments, face competition from other low-cost manufacturing countries.

The country is also spooked by poor coordination between the implementing agencies due to a lack of a clear implementation framework.

Khahliso ’Molaoa

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