BY: Thoboloko Nts’onyane
MASERU –The women and youth in entrepreneurship and civic space are undergoing a two-day capacity-building exercise.
The training is facilitated by the Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) in concert with the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA).
The 45 participants are drawn from the three districts and different sectors of society from businesses, civil society organisations and government representatives within Lesotho.
DWF’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Katiso Mosoeunyane said the programme is slated to run for 42 months and is aimed at capacitating women and youth on the awareness raising as well as advocacy strategies on matters relating to business and empowerment.
Mosoeunyane said the programme covers the three districts namely Maseru, Leribe and Butha-Buthe. He said these districts are major economic hubs for various economic activities, and that they are districts closest to the borders. He further said the selection of these districts was informed by the research indicating levels of innovation taking place in them.
The programme, he said it endeavours to take youth and women out of social ills by according them economic empowerment means and also “take the lead” in informing government’s programming and that of support services organisations such as business development providers on how to access their services.
DWF’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer said some of the strategies they have adopted include encouraging organic solutions to the challenges affecting local communities, for product and market development for people to support locally produced products.
“The participants are supposed to understand fully how government works, understand how to hold the government accountable on issues that relate to entrepreneurial development and employability because we cannot really have youth that wants unemployment declared a state of emergency and not have long-term strategies that are able to create opportunities that are sustainable,” he said.
Mosoenyane said the pieces of training will be rolled out in cohorts.
For her part, the facilitator Mpho Letima, said the training challenged the participants to take stock of their input within the governance on how much influence they possess to influence the decision-making processes in matters that concerns them.
She further said the training will expose those running small micro-medium enterprises (SMMEs), and those whose businesses are at an idea stage, whether they have a voice in decision-making and policy-making processes.
Letima said the training kit focus is on points such as the experts on entrepreneurship, and the internal asset-based approach model.
Social entrepreneurship and youth development expert mentioned that their modules challenge the participants to ‘know themselves’ before they appreciate the governance structural landscape.
She said if they comply and know the regulatory body they can situate themselves in that ecosystem and exploit them for their benefit.
“You need to understand these programmes within your own department, how do I benefit out of them; how do they give them to me [conditional requirements in place]? So we are helping them to spread how they can see themselves in the government system.”
The facilitator also underscored the need for entrepreneurs to explore the resources mobilisation matrix. She said they should be able to analyse and scrutinise the national budget and ask themselves if they have a say or if it is exclusively the government’s budget.
She said they also took them through the community resource mobilisation matrix, saying the immediate communities can “sustain and catch” the entrepreneurs when they encounter difficulties.
Letima said they need to “look at resources from a social perspective, financial perspective, a development, political and financial perspective”.
One of the participants Moliehi Tlhabi from the Student Christian Movement (SCM) said the training introduced her to incubation, a concept she was unfamiliar with. Incubation allows entrepreneurs to preserve capital and gain external support to accelerate their businesses’ growth.
She said as a hairdresser, they encounter different challenges which include a lack of money to pay towards their rental fees.
Tlhabi said one of her key takeaways from the training, is the importance of collaboration among entrepreneurs. She said it is cumbersome for small businesses to secure land or even a building but this can be easier through collaborations.
She further praised the training for introducing her to the concept of incubation. This concept, she said is about mapping their needs and thereafter identifying either supplier or the sponsor to address them.
Also, one of the trainees, Khabo Moreboli from Alleviate, a civil society organization that bolter the blood drive initiatives and works with the national blood bank, praised the training saying it had been insightful.
Moreboli said it had helped to enhance his networking influence, a move that will augur well for his organisations as they need donors to donate blood.
He said the programme has exposed them to how the legislation works and how they relate to it as participants.
DWF and FIDA are the implementers of the ‘Putting Youth and Women at the Centre of Inclusive Economic Growth’. This project capacitates youth and women on the importance of the role SMMEs play in facilitating inclusive economic growth in Lesotho.
The programme is funded by the European Union (EU).