BY Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU- The Managing Director (MD) of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Lesotho John Matlosa has hoisted the Lesotho’s flag high when stealing the spotlight last week by winning a coveted award in Melbourne, Australia.

The Global Entrepreneurship Network celebrated the achievements of 18 individuals and organisations that had distinguished themselves during the GEN Compass Awards. These awards recognise excellence in different fields including entrepreneurship, policymaking, investor support programs and research- and also celebrates individuals who make a difference in helping entrepreneurs start and scale around the world.

Matlosa was bestowed with the award of the GEN Rookie of the Year during the awards hosted by the Global Entrepreneurship Congress.

The GEN Lesotho MD is recognised for his efforts of launching GEN in Lesotho to bring the Entrepreneurship World Cup to over 5 000 entrepreneurs, and for attracting policy-makers, media and industry leaders in the process.

GEN Lesotho was established in June 2022 and has since incubated many entrepreneurs and start-ups.

Entrepreneurship is said to be one of the critical elements and drivers of the economic growth in the country, and it has been touted to create employment and foster innovation to solve societal challenges.

He told this publication that he had not anticipating winning.

Asked what this feat means to him, he said “it says Lesotho has a role to play in terms of entrepreneurship”.

The GEN Rookie of the Year stated that the country is still lagging behind in terms of supporting startups.

He continued: “Lesotho has a potential to be innovative and take the innovation to the world”.

Matlosa said Lesotho should be known as the “innovative Kingdom and not just a tiny country” in southern Africa.

GEN Lesotho’s MD made a call to action saying that Basotho producers and startups need fresh perspectives on innovation saying this would propel the country’s creativity on the global stage.

Matlosa canvassed that it is high time that conversations are reshaped around innovation saying it needs to be embodied to develop and enhance the resources within the Basotho’s immediate means. By doing so, he said the country will reposition itself as a hub of innovation, delivering solutions to cater for the local needs and beyond borders.

He said there are business opportunities outside Lesotho saying Basotho should tap into arrangements such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). AfCFTA is envisaged to unite and boost intra-trade in all 55 African Union Member States under a common market with a population of over 1.2 billion.

“How can we tap into global markets? These messages should be taken to the [local] producers and even startups,” he stressed adding that policies and regulations should be fashioned such that they will “boost investors’ confidence “.

He said Basotho should be bandwagon mongers, but instead diversify their appetite for other businesses and also aim to compete in the global market.

Some of the notable figures and organisations that walked away with the awards are the South Africa’s Minister of Small Business Hon Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams who walked away with the ‘Policy Champion Award and also the El Salvador’s Minister of Economy Hon Maria Luisa Hayem who was awarded for being the best of the bunch in ‘Enterprise Registration and Regulation’.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Syria emerged victorious under the ‘Inspiration and Resilience’.

Jamaica claimed the title of the ‘GEN Country of the Year’.

“The winners of the Compass awards are herpes who have gone extraordinary lengths in challenging conditions to remove barriers to entrepreneurship and create opportunities in their communities.

“They are leaders locally and role models for peers around the world,” said the President of the Global Entrepreneurship Network Jonathan Ortmans.