MASERU- A new co-operative financial institution that will radically transform the economy of Lesotho, the People’s Savings and Credit Co-Operative Society, known as People’s Saccos, was officially launched on Friday.
People’s Saccos is now registered in line with the laws and regulations of the Kingdom of Lesotho and represents a convergence of dedicated Basotho from all walks of life who aim to achieve financial independence.
According to Francis Selialia secretary of People’s Saccos the primary purpose of the financial cooperative is to provide relevant financial services to its members to enable them to participate meaningfully in all sectors of the economy.
“We are going to provide relevant financial services to member entrepreneurs; co-operatives and small-to-medium enterprises at competitive interest rates; provide funding for viable projects of entrepreneurs and co-operatives and liberate members financially and economically,” he said.
Speaking at the launch Minister of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing ‘Mantoetse Mohatonyane indicated that co-operatives are needed to curb the high unemployment rate in the country.
“In relation to the development of co-operatives the mandate of our ministry is to promote cooperatives and create conducive policies and legislatives. We have seen new cooperatives come but within no time they face off the challenge being we do not have enough legislatives in place and also lack of capacity,” she said.
“As government we place emphasis on private sector lead economy as we believe is the greatest potential for sustainable job creation thus poverty elimination. However we have only been talking about it and done nothing except talk about it but through the People’s Saccos we will be able to achieve that,” she said.
She noted that through the initiative taken by her ministry last year, of going around districts and talking to business people of the challenges they face in the business world, most of them pointed access to finance as their main challenge.
“With the presence of People’s Saccos we believe that we won’t be dealing with that challenge anymore,” she said.
Chief Executive Officer at the African Confederation of Co-operative Saving and Institutions in Africa (Accosca) George Ombado who was guest of honour, said for Lesotho to make its economy meaningful it has to form such co-operatives like the People’s Saccos.
“Co-operatives have potential to create employment which can make them one of the economic pillars in Lesotho,” he said.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Co-operatives at the Ministry of Trade ‘Maphamoli Lekoetje said the financial co-operative centre in Lesotho contributes 18.6% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). She also said the financial co-operatives were currently facing some challenges which include issues around management and good governance.
“People’s Saccos is going to address the challenge of access to finance through providing access to finance for entrepreneurs, co-operatives and associations, which is the biggest challenge our country is facing.
“Unemployment among the youth is another challenge, with some of them being graduates with good innovative business ideas that can transform their communities but without access to finance those ideas are nothing,” Lekoetje said.