By Mots’elisi Sekonyela
Mamello Special Needs School came out victorious as one of the ten winners of the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project (BEP) at an awards ceremony held by BEDCO in collaboration with Standard Lesotho Bank and Revenue Services on February 3rd in Maseru.
The awarding ceremony comes after their long running youth entrepreneurship project that launched in June 2022 with over 300 Basotho youth submitting their business plans.
The following stage narrowed it down to only 50 entrepreneurs who then attended training workshops in November on how to better improve their business plans and proposals.
They then re-wrote and re-submitted these in December and the competition further narrowed to the stage of 25 that went for pitching and psychometric test in January out of which the successful 10 were allocated a sum of 2 million maloti in February.
Kefuoe Nkuatsana, 35 who is a special needs teacher by profession and founder of Mamello special needs school in Naleli, Maseru made it to the top 10 where she got allocated a share of M125 810.00 as seed capital towards developing and growing the school.
Nkuatsana says this is the first ever funding she has ever gotten so far since the implementation of the school that started in 2017 as a tutoring service for after school and weekends.
She says her breakthrough came in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic when schools closed. Nkuatsana had more time on her hands to tutor more special needs students and that’s when she thought of actually turning the tutoring service in to a full-time school.
In 2021 November she handed in her resignation and started her school with five classes in 2022 January, as it stands now, the school has seven classes that are made up of pre-school, primary and special needs sections.
The students receive the up to date curriculum that is approved by the ministry of education. Their first standard seven class wrote exams in 2021.
Asked what inspired the creation of this school, Nkuatsana says it is purely based on passion.
“I have always loved kids and been passionate about them, hence I became a teacher in the first place. Working in “normal” school setting made me realize just how marginalized kids of special needs are. I then saw a gap and bridged it,” she said.
This was Nkuatsana’s first time entering for this competition, she remarks that she is humbled to have won as there are people who have been entering multiple times without success and she attributes her luck to God, saying she really didn’t do anything special that she would say helped her win.
“My success with this school shocks me all the time, it is so rapid. I really don’t know why this is so because I don’t think I am doing any special thing in how I write proposals and pitch. It’s really just God,” said the elated Nkuatsana.
The school has a newly built infrastructure that was constructed in December 2022, which she hopes to expand now with the funding and accommodate more learners as well as hire more stuff.
As it stands, the school has 12 tutors which she says are not enough. The funds use of funds by recipients will be closely monitored by the sponsors through an incubation program.