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Riding above competition



Every business faces competition. You might be the only business in town providing that product or service but there will be substitutes for what you are offering. Your clients can also spend their money on something else other than on your product.
The competitive environment has been made worse with the surge in the use of internet. Your competition is no longer the grocery shop next door. You are now competing with businesses from other countries.

Competition could also be another product or service that’s being developed that might overtake yours. So you need to be constantly scanning the environment for possible new competition. To survive you need to adopt strategies that are above the competition.
It’s important that you know who exactly your competition is. There are many sources to establish who your competitor is. You can check in the local business directories, from adverts or press reports or you could search on the Internet for similar products or services.

You can also get information from your customers, or search for existing patented products that are similar to yours. You can also get clues from building planning applications and building work in progress. This can tell you what type of business is coming up.
To enable you to come up with a good strategy you should look at the products or services that the competition is providing and how they market them, the prices charged for the product, how they brand their offering, the numbers and the calibre of staff and who owns the business.
You should also establish who your competitors’ customers are and what they value from your competitor.

Dig deeper by investigating your competitors’ business strategy, that is, the type of customers they’re targeting, new products they’re developing and their financial strength. Armed with such information you will be able to approach your competition from a vantage point.
Evaluate the information you have and see whether there are gaps in the market that you can exploit. In your analysis check what you can learn from the competition, see if there are certain things they are worse than you and how you can leverage on that and what things they are doing the same as you which you need to do better.

If your competitor is doing certain things better than you try to improve on what they are offering. It could be customer service then improve it, or revise your prices and or better still improve your products, or change the way you market your product. Try to add more value to your offering which will appeal to your customers.
Operating a business just feels like a perpetual competition. Your company is always competing with another company for customers. The environment can range from mild competition to hyper-competition. It’s a war zone in the market place. You need to do something extraordinary to rise above the crowd. As an entrepreneur you might find such a situation very exhausting, discouraging and unbearable.

But what you need is audacity, courage, fearlessness or boldness. Courage to take risks is what is needed in such situations.
If your organisation has to stand out from the rest of the pack you need to have an organisation that is adaptable to the environment.
There is a saying, “A wise man adapts himself to circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it.” As the environment changes an organisation should be able to adapt to the environment. Adaptability ensures survivability.

Nothing is constant except change. The economic environment is constantly changing. Competition is always coming up with even better products.
It’s important that you embrace and welcome change, but you should also be on the driving seat driving that change.
To be above the competition your organisation should be a learning one. As an entrepreneur you should observe what is happening in the world and be prepared to learn new things. An organisation that is not open to new ideas or new inventions will be rendered irrelevant.
As an entrepreneur you should have that urge or desire to go out there to conquer and win. Every opportunity that comes your way should be seized without delay.

A window of opportunity appears once and quickly disappears if you don’t take advantage of it. Be prepared to clinch any valuable opportunity otherwise the competition will take it.
To be above the pack demands patience, determination. Never let discouragement to set in. Delay in achieving your objective might cause discouragement. But when you feel discouraged just let your passion push you. Don’t let any negative talk pull you down.

To outperform your competition learn to think differently. Don’t always flow with the current but be willing to risk your reputation by flowing at times against the tide. In this way you are able to introduce new ideas within your industry which will catapult your organisation to the top.
Remain creative. Endeavour to create your future by being innovative. Challenge your team to be creative and encourage them to take risks.

l Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy and performance management. He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.

For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles or in strategic planning facilitation please contact him on the following contacts: or +266 62110062 or on WhatsApp +266 58881062

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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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