MASERU- Newly appointed Minister of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing (MSCM) ‘Mantoetsi Mohatonyane says self-employment is the answer to Lesotho’s high unemployment rate.
The minister said this at a consultative meeting with media and stakeholders aimed at introducing the mandate of the ministry to the public.
Mohatonyane indicated that her ministry is charged with the creation of conducive policies, legislation and regulatory environment for the development of small enterprises and markets in Lesotho.
She also said the ministry has facilitation function for the development of businesses and cooperatives in Lesotho, as well as identifying and maximizing value-addition in industries through the promotion of market-oriented enterprises.
She said most people are unemployed and they were looking up to government for jobs which can no longer absorb them, there the ministry was looking for ways in which they could be assisted to create jobs for themselves.
“This coming financial year 2017/2018, we have already have plans in place for the partial credit guarantee of M50 million that was introduced by government some years back to be controlled by MSCM,” she said.
The minister said government, through this initiative, was trying to make access to finance for people who want to start their own businesses.
In addition, Setlaba Monaheng, Acting Director Small Business Development said the ministry works with the Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDCO) to assist small businesses in many ways.
“We want sustainable small businesses that will be able to create jobs. Soon the African Development Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will assist us in a project that will capacitate small businesses with skills and also help with public and private business consultants.
“The challenge that we still have in the ministry is that currently we don’t have a law that governs small businesses however UNDP will also assist us in drafting that law,” he said.
He also added that his ministry just concluded its tour of going through all the districts where they were sensitizing small business owners and entrepreneurs on challenges they face in the business world and access to finance was one of those challenges.
Director in the Department of Marketing Lekhooe Makhate said his section is charged with finding markets for Basotho products. “We assist Basotho businesses to enter both domestic and international markets,” he said.
He said, presently the small businesses faced challenges in the packaging of their products for external markets. “There is no proper packaging and also lack of abattoirs. However, Mohale’s Hoek and Leribe were identified as places where we can have slaughter houses for both chicken and pigs,” he said.