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 important 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.
Why invest for the future
AN investment plan forms a critical pillar of a financial plan, says Tokiso Nthebe, a local author and financial services adviser.
Nthebe, the founder of TKO Financial Wellness and Advisory, says when people invest, they can use their money to buy assets that will increase in value over the long term.
He says these assets can help them build wealth.
“When you invest, your money starts to work for you by providing returns that will beat inflation,’’ Nthebe says.
Nthebe says there is a huge difference between saving and investing.
He says investing requires that you take some level of risk in exchange for an expected return or growth.
Nthebe says Basotho should consider many factors before they decide to start investing.
“It is important to have a clear strategy that guides your investment decisions and to work with qualified professionals,” he says.
Nthebe says one should consider their growth mind-set, investment goals, and their risk tolerance.
In addition, one should consider what kind of growth or return they expect.
He says one should find out whether the institution they invest in is licensed or regulated and how long one should invest.
Nthebe says one should further consider what risks are associated with the investment option and whether there are any associated costs.
He says it is also important to remember that investments take time.
“There are no short cuts to building wealth. Do not fall prey to get-rich-quick schemes,” he says.
Moreover, Nthebe says the investment landscape comprises commercial banks, asset management companies, and insurance companies.
He says each provides different financial products and services.
Nthebe says the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) also offers investment solutions such as treasury bills and treasury bonds that Basotho can consider.
Depending on your investment goals, he says financial service providers have a wide range of investment solutions to choose from that cater for short, medium, and long-term goals.
“I encourage Basotho to do thorough research and seek professional advice before making financial decisions,” he says.
Vince Shorb, the United States National Financial Educators Council CEO, writes that “many of the financial problems people face today started when they were young and making their first financial decisions”.
Shorb further says taking on too much debt, not investing early, and failing to plan can take one decades to recover from such.
However, it takes financial literacy to make good decisions, he says.
Financial literacy has been perceived as a tool that gives you the opportunity to be confident and empowered to live the quality of life you have worked hard for.
Shorb says one of the wisest decisions one can make to prepare for the future is to invest.
Investment has been defined as the commitment of funds with a view to minimising risk and safeguarding capital while earning a return.
When Covid-19 hit and the government shut down all gatherings in April 2020, there seemed no way out for ICONICS (Pty) Ltd, a budding events management company based in Leribe district.
They had two options: shut down or innovate to keep the business going.
They chose the latter.
Three years down the line, ICONICS (Pty) Ltd has completely transformed itself from an events management and public relations company into a manufacturing company that is now the envy of Lesotho.
“The closing of events translated into the closing of our business,” Rapitso Mosebetsi, one of the co-founders of ICONICS (Pty) Ltd told thepost this week.
Mosebetsi established ICONICS in partnership with Tumo Mahapa.
Faced with collapse, Mosebetsi say they began buying Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as surgical gowns, disposal coveralls and safety apparel for resale.
Eventually they decided to manufacture the PPEs and safety clothing. That was the turning point.
But since the company was already down, Mosebetsi says diversification was a hard nut to crack.
“It became quite a long journey (for us),” he says. “We had to come up with something new for the industry.”
He says they had to overcome stiff competition from giant companies and come up with something unique that would set them apart.
“That was how thermal heating apparel was born,” he says.
“We are the first company to produce thermal heating apparel,” he says.
The company manufactures thermal clothing, which is electric clothing, using power banks of five voltages.
“The voltage is so low to electrocute a person,” he says.
The clothing also has a power button to turn it on and off.
Mosebetsi says the thermal heating apparel is on corporate clothing as well as high-visibility clothing.
Mosebetsi says they started the journey with the support of several organisations, such as the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) and the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO), to build their capacity.
Mosebetsi says they also got mentorship support from organisations such as the Global Entrepreneurship Network.
The results of years of hard work are now all out for everyone to see.
In 2022, ICONICS won the M100 000 Business Plan Competition hosted by BEDCO.
This grant enabled them to acquire land and buy five more industrial machines.
This did not only enable the company to increase their production to 100 worksuits a week, but it further created permanent jobs for five people as well as three temporary workers.
Last year, the company took part in the Exporter of the Year event hosted by the LNDC in partnership with the Lesotho Post Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Mosebetsi says they won the award for Lesotho’s most innovative and versatile exporter.
He says this did not only put them in the spotlight, but it further encouraged them to do more.
ICONICS was announced as the best exporter of the year at an event hosted by the LNDC earlier this month.
Mosebetsi says this made them proud, as the award is aligned with their vision.
The award further gives the company an opportunity to participate in the regional competition.
He says this opportunity will further give the company a competitive edge in terms of production locally and globally.
“It will be an honour if we can win the regional competition,” he says.
In terms of markets, Mosebetsi says the company has had the opportunity to list their products in the African Trade Market since 2020 with the support of USAID.
This is an e-commerce platform that opens up the market for African countries to list their products.
Mosebetsi says the company did not only get publicity, but the client database also increased.
He says they moved from supplying individuals only to big companies, different organisations, and different government departments such as those involved in mining and health.
Considering the decline of the Lesotho textile industry, Mosebetsi says their secret to success has been their being innovative.
“Our sustainability is matched with innovation,” he says.
Mosebetsi says it also requires patience coupled with lots of investment in terms of time.
“Rome was not built in one day,” he says.
He says working as a team also plays a critical role.
Despite their achievements, Mosebetsi says the market for innovative industries is one of the hardest nuts to crack.
He says the company is in the process of not only making their products known but also educating people about their safety.
Mosebetsi says the other challenge is the decline of the South African Rand as compared to the US Dollar.
He says some of their materials are sourced from China.
Therefore, it is more expensive to buy such materials.
ICONICS is not only seeking to make their brand well known globally, but Mosebetsi says they are also seeking to create more jobs for our youths.
LetsGo and Win!
LETSHEGO Financial Service has launched the LetsGo and Win loan consolidation campaign where customers win weekly and monthly cash prizes of up to M150 000.
The campaign, which was launched yesterday, will end on November 8.
The LetsGo and Win campaign rewards customers for consolidating their loans.
It is aligned with Letshego Lesotho’s version to offer competitive products that cater for the evolving needs of its customers.
The financial services company operates in Lesotho, Botswana, ESwatini, and Zambia.
The Marketing Manager and Business Partner, Tšotetsi Seema, said Letshego Lesotho is committed to delivering increasing value and options to customers.
Seema said this programme is a testament to that commitment.
“The campaign invites customers to consolidate their loans into one low and easy repayment with reduced rates and they stand to win weekly and monthly prizes,” Seema said.
“The weekly cash prizes will be won by lucky customers randomly selected and notified through Letshego Radio shows,” he said.
Additionally, he said two lucky customers will be randomly selected each month and given a chance to spin the wheel of fortune with a chance to receive a maximum of M20 000 each.
“The loans consolidation campaign makes it easier for customers to choose Letshego Lesotho as their preferred financial services partner.”
He said this innovative campaign aims to help individuals streamline their debt payment while benefiting from reduced interest rates.
“Debt consolidation can help customers get a lower monthly payment, pay off their debt sooner, increase their credit score and simplify their life.”
Letshego Lesotho’s Head of Sales, Distribution and Marketing, Motebang Moeketsi, said managing multiple loans can often be overwhelming with varying interest loans due dates and terms.
“The campaign addresses this challenge by combining multiple loans into a single, easy to manage repayment plan,” Moeketsi said.
He added that this simplification not only eases the financial burden on borrowers but also potentially leads to significant savings over time.
Moreover the new consolidation campaign invites customers to take advantage of their best-in-class financial services provided through Letshego Lesotho branch network and digital platforms.
“Letshego Lesotho is committed to increasing financial inclusion through its efforts to serve underbanked communities, promoting financial literacy and delivering positive social impacts for its customers and communities.”
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