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There is a powerful woman of some kind lurking in all of us! And this month, I feel like a superwoman – a woman who can vault the wall with cat-like agility.

But it’s almost month-end and fear is crippling; we are to abdicate our thrones and, for some, a husband is yet to be angry and quick with his hand.

We are to remain slaves of our past, slaves to being underlings because there is just one problem: When it comes down to it, it has not yet dawned on us, women, that we are more than how we think of ourselves.  We refuse to challenge the conventional wisdom.

If there is anything women’s month has taught me it is that we are powerful beyond measure!

I know many strong and proud women who never move from their ground-level stall as the sun burns their children and the flies torture their eyes when they haven’t managed to make a sale. Pity the same women know everything about their flaws; nothing about their strengths.

It is time we focus on self-improvement and overcoming challenges rather than seeing our mistakes as the product of insurmountable personal flaws. With that new attitude we can be the best there is, even in business.

Hear this out: according to the Marketing to Women Conference, eighty-five percent of buying decisions are made by women. This is a massive market segment that you can’t ignore.

Why?  You are a woman and you can easily identify women’s needs and make them feel special. Doesn’t that make you think about starting your own business?

Yes, it’s a known fact that starting a truly sustainable business – one that generates an income to live on, or adds an existing in a way that improves a lifestyle – is hard work. So, be prepared to fail in all sorts of ways.

For many moms, failure is a scary thought – the cost of a childcare is a major factor in career decisions making pay-cuts a luxury of the relatively young and unattached. I know women who long to have autonomy in their work, or be more creative with new projects but are scared to leave their day to day job.

If you are one of them worry not: Big companies are cottoning on the fact that if they allow their employees more freedom to create their perfect career, be intrapreneus, they can hang on to them, and then benefit from these new skills or ideas. And, if the idea works, it could mean a bonus or promotion.  So, an intrapreneur is an “in-house” entrepreneur.

I just love it. No more spending hours helping your boss prepare for an important meeting, which he aces but fails to acknowledge your contribution. Forget about managing-up (making your boss look good in an effort to enhance your career) – well, I don’t think it always works – do your thing, intrapreneurship is the solution.

But, intrapreneur or entrepreneur, you still have to work hard. And it would be wise to remember that history is littered with examples of entrepreneurs and outstanding ideas that required several drop stitches on their grand tapestry.

If your company does not offer that opportunity and are willing to take all the risks involved in starting a business but minimize them, well there is something you can do to minimize the costs of starting a business.  Ever heard of a work hub? If not, you may ask, What is a work hub? Collaborative work spaces.

They are open-plan spaces where entrepreneurs and sole traders can rent work space, network and collaborate with other like-minded workers. Great news is, renting a desk is much cheaper than renting office space.

As if that is not enough, users say it can boost your business by five to 50% because of new business opportunities, new skills learnt, and mentoring from other workers.

It will do you good to remember: it doesn’t have to cost the earth to start a business. Some of the biggest businesses have started from home – think about Bill Gates – in the founder’s own time, with start-up funds of a few thousand rands, dollars, whatever currency it is. So, you can start from home, with a few thousand maloti and in a few years run an empire.

I wish you all the luck in the world. You will succeed and these three tips will guarantee you that: believe that hard work can and will lead to improvement; have confidence that you are at the right place that is you are where you belong; and belief that what you are doing is valuable and relevant to your goal.”

Times are tough, everybody knows that, but this does not mean it’s the end of the world. Regard these challenges as an opportunity to find new exciting solutions of doing business. And don’t abdicate your throne, get into the month of September with a plan!

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LEC to switch off households over debts



MASERU – The Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) will from Tuesday next week begin switching off clients who owe it money.

The LEC issued a seven-day ultimatum to all customers who owe it on Tuesday last week. The deadline ends on Monday.

It is expected that the LEC will begin switching off households that have defaulted.

The state-owned power company, however, is not going to touch any government department or business entities that owe it on grounds that they are in payment negotiations.

The LEC move comes barely two weeks after it cut electricity supplies to the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) thus causing it to fail to pump water to communities countrywide for more than two days.

The LEC says it is owed close to M200 million by government departments, businesses and individuals.

The LEC spokesman, Tšepang Ledia, told thepost that the government and the businesses will not have their electricity cut because they are in negotiations.

“We are in negotiations with the government and businesses and hopefully they will pay,” Ledia said.

“We advise the ordinary people to pay their debts before the 20th of March 2023 or else we cut the services,” he said.

The LEC says it is running short of funds for its daily operations.

In December last year the company increased power tariffs by 7.9 percent on both energy and maximum demand charges across all customer categories for the Financial Year 2022/23.

Last week the LEC boss, Mohato Seleke, said postpaid consumers and sundry debtors owe the company M169.4 million.

He said unless the debtors pay he will be unable to buy electricity from ’Muela Hydropower Project, Eskom in South Africa and Mozambique’s EDM.

This, he said, could cause serious load shedding in the country and could be devastating for businesses.

Seleke said the LEC spends M630 million monthly to buy electricity.

“If postpaid consumers do not settle their debts this could prevent the LEC from being able to buy electricity which can lead the country to encounter load-shedding,” Seleke said.

Seleke said collecting debt from government department ministries was a challenge as there is an understanding that since LEC is a state-owned company, it will continue supplying government agencies with electricity and they will settle their bills when they have funds to do so.

Seleke said the LEC has lost M21 million to vandalism during this financial year.

Relebohile Tšepe

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Bumper payout for former mineworkers



MASERU – AT least 11 316 current as well as former mine workers are set for a bumper payout after Tshiamiso Trust began disbursing the first billion Maloti to workers who are suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis.

The payment comes two years after Tshiamiso Trust began processing claims for the historical M5 billion settlement agreement between mineworkers and six gold mines in South Africa.

Speaking at the payment announcement in Maseru last week, the Trust’s CEO, Lusanda Jiya, said it has been two years since they officially began accepting claims.

“Our people come to work every day with the mission of impacting lives for the better, and the first billion rand paid out to over 11 000 families is just the beginning,” Jiya said.

“We know that there is no compensation that will ever be enough to undo the suffering endured by mine workers and their families,” he said.

“However, we are committed to deliver our mandate and ensure that every family that is eligible for compensation receives it.”

Jiya said the Trust is limited both in terms of the time in which they can operate, and the extent to which they can assist those seeking compensation.

Broadly speaking, the eligibility criteria include among others that the mineworker must have worked at one of the qualifying gold mines between March 12, 1965 and December 10, 2019.

Secondly, living mineworkers must have permanent lung damage from silicosis or TB and deceased mine workers representatives must have evidence that proves that they (the deceased) died from TB or Silicosis.

Tshiamiso Trust has a lifespan of 12 years, ending in February 2031.

Over 111 000 claims have been received to date, through offices in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, eSwatini, and Mozambique.

The Trust is working with stakeholders in these countries and others to mobilise its efforts and expand operations.

The history of silicosis in South Africa goes back to the late 1880’s when the first gold mines began operations.

The gold was stored and locked in quartz, a special rock that contains large amounts of silica.

Crystallised silica particles can cause serious respiratory damage if inhaled.

In the earlier days of gold mining, dust control, health and safety standards and the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) were not as advanced as they are today.

Tshiamiso Trust was established in 2020 to give effect to the settlement agreement reached between six mining companies.

The companies are African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Stillwater and Gold Fields.

The settlement agreement was reached and made after a ruling by the Johannesburg High Court as a result of a historic class action by former and current mineworkers against the six gold mines.

Justice for Miners is a coalition of interested parties in the mining sector launched at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg in 2020.

The Johannesburg High Court approved the setting up of the Tshiamiso Trust to facilitate payment by the companies to affected miners.

Keith Chapatarongo

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Farmers cry over cost of livestock feed



MASERU – Lehlohonolo Mokhethi is a farmer who has been running a successful poultry business, thanks to a small loan he got from a local bank.

He now has 300 chickens.

He says his vision is to rear 5 000 chickens by 2025 and employ 30 youths. But he is now grappling with a new challenge: the ever increasing cost of chicken feed.

That is threatening the viability of his business.

“The biggest challenge is that food prices increase every day, feeding is expensive,” Mokhethi said.

“It is quite difficult to make profit in business if each and every day food prices increase. Today I am buying a bag of food with a certain amount then the next day the price has increased,” he says.

“Our customers fail dismally to understand that food has increased and the Chinese are taking our market because they sell at a low price thus I run at a loss.”

Last week, a top attorney in Maseru who is also a prominent farmer, Tiisetso Sello-Mafatle, called a meeting for farmers to discuss these challenges.

She says the government must regulate the prices of livestock feed.

That is critical if the farming business is to succeed, she says.

Attorney Sello-Mafatle says farmers must come up with a structure for livestock feed prices which they would present to the government for gazetting.

“We should state our regulations and give them to the government to make everything easy for both parties because we cannot wait for the government to make regulations for us,” Sello-Mafatle says.

She adds that “farmers should be bullish about what they want and never have fear endorsing new things”.

“I will not be challenged or cry (because of) what life throws at me but I will cry when things are not happening the right way,” she says.

Mafatle says farmers need to know who they are and know the capabilities they have.

“This will help a farmer in becoming the best in any field they are in once they are confident about themselves,” she says.

Karabo Lijo, another participant, said they have to influence the cost of inputs in agriculture, especially livestock feed.

“We have to go back to cost-price analysis where as farmers we are able to derive the selling price and the break-even point in our production,” Lijo said.

“We can also derive the stable or constant mark-ups on our products,” he said.

“We need to do research to increase the ability to produce byproducts which are likely to have the longest shelve life,” he said.

The meeting urged farmers to diversify their products by introducing such things as mushroom farming. They said mushrooms can grow very well in Lesotho due to its favourable climate.

The farmers also demanded that there should be regulations on how land can be sold or borrowed in Lesotho.

Tholoana Lesenya and Alice Samuel

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