By Ts’oloane Mohlomi
MASERU – In a bid to aid and further facilitate entrepreneurship in Lesotho, Prime Minister Samuel Ntsokoane Matekane, launched the much anticipated entrepreneurship hub and seed funding facility.
The hub will provide local entrepreneurs with much needed support in terms of business expertise and knowledge, which will be derived from the incubation, while the seed funding facility will alternatively provide the funding which is essential when starting new businesses.
In the background of a recovering global economy which is evidently still reeling in some sectors from ramifications of the pandemic, and with the current high unemployment rate facing the country. Entrepreneurship has long been a tipped by industry experts and government alike as an alternative means of creating a living.
More than 20 businesses were incubated last year through the Basotho Entrepreneurship Development Corporation (BEDCO).
Speaking at the auspicious occasion Prime Minister Matekane said he was proud of all those present on the day and of the nation at large, as all would bear witness of government fulfilling one of its prime mandates which it promised Basotho; the mandate of vowing to grow businesses and stimulate the economy.
Prime Minister Matekane said, it was of outmost importance for government not only to support big thriving businesses but to also ensure small businesses are uplifted as well. He said business is indeed the backbone of a strong and thriving economy, as was essential in ensuring sustainable development in all sectors.
He said theirs as government was to level the playing field and ensure that there is peace and stability in the country, so that entrepreneurial economic activities could happen without any hindrance or external interference.
“As you know that I am a businessman, and you can all recall that during the earlier days of my tenure as the Prime Minister I made a promise that I would try by all means to improve and uplift commercial activities in the country, well today marks a noteworthy occasion, as we launch this great government initiative which will indeed help not only the established businesses but the growing ones as well.
“As business is indeed the backbone of any economy, it is important we have a clear blueprint regarding the uplifting of businesses, and invigorating our economy. Under a stable and peaceful environment which our government will ensure, businesses will be able to answer and address the needs of Basotho, and even be able to take advantage of trading with the international market. When this happens the same businesses will also in turn be able to pay tax and help build our country,” he said.
Moreover the Prime Minister said the Entrepreneurship Innovation Hub was aimed at ensuring that government succeeds in ensuring all this plans came to pass. He said it was mainly formed to address the challenges affecting business, be it financial challenges, advertising, business growth and even challenges regarding commercial business studies.
He added that it was Lesotho’s turn to reclaim her position on the International scene/Sphere.
“Your Excellency’s, distinguished guests, I thank all those who have taken part in the success of this initiative. The government has taken this bold step towards supporting entrepreneurship to ensure broadened economic activity in Lesotho. Lesotho cannot be left behind, as nations increase their competitiveness and claim their stake in the fourth Industrial Revolution.
“With this initiative, we hope to produce entrepreneurs and companies that will have a global footprint, adding that entrepreneurs should utilize opportunities provided by globalization and we promise that the government will help them through this journey.
He added that the Entrepreneurship Hub will therefore steer the economy towards private sector-led economic growth which has been a dream since Lesotho obtained its democracy in 1993.
As government confidently believes that in the coming 5 years, they will have local businesses that shall be exporting goods and services to all corners of the world. He said this day was important because the road to the future began then and there. Noting that the government would continue to support initiatives aimed at creating new industries and supporting entrepreneurship, as these are the key deliverables of the National Strategic Development Plan.
Alternatively the CAFI Project Manager, Mr. Chaba Mokuku said the Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed Financing Facility is intended to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystems in the country by bringing together various ecosystem players and coordinating efforts of various stakeholders in building coherent entrepreneurship systems.
Mr. Mokuku said the project aims to strengthen the private sector and transform it into an engine of growth, saying the objective of the CAFI project is to increase access to finance for SMEs and entrepreneurs, especially women and youth in the country.