By Mpho Shelile

MASERU – Providing digital skills and entrepreneurial training in Lesotho can have a significant impact on the country’s youth and its overall economic development. So Econet Telecom, IOE, Vodacom, Microsoft together with other companies created a platform where the youth of Lesotho and other countries can get educated and mentored at Avani Lesotho on the 21st September. 

Minister of Gender, Youth, Arts, Culture and Social Development HON. Lesaoana Pitso stated they appreciate what the collaborative companies are brings to the future of the youth of Lesotho, “it is our prime ministers vision to bring Basotho from small scale to a larger scale in everything that they do, I hope the youth will take advantage of this opportunity and show us that they can become leaders of tomorrow”, he concluded his speech by edging the youth to start acting now for it is their time to take this moment to show the elderly what they are capable of.   

In her opening remarks, Miss. Winnie Karanu a Philanthropies lead for Sub Saharan Africa from Microsoft stated that lack of financial resources should not be a barrier to education and Entrepreneurship Incubators and other platforms for the youth, “we are hoping to empower about 5000 participants, we have already reached: Senegal, Uganda and DRC and are working tirelessly to make sure that no one is left behind. We as Microsoft believe in the power of partnership hence we are going to be tackling the youth unemployment and empower women and entrepreneurship skills in Lesotho,” She emphasized.

She concluded by assessing views and sentiments of young people they have worked with regarding the lack of employment opportunities varying widely depending on their individual experiences, backgrounds, and the specific economic and social context of their region or country. Adding that there are however, some common concerns that are often expressed by youth in the face of unemployment or underemployment.

Mr. Roberto Suarez-Santos the general secretary of IOE stated that there is need to involve the local community and businesses in the program so that they foster a sense of belonging and encourage entrepreneurship within the community. “This launch marks Lesotho’s high unemployment rate history, because once a student completes their online studies there will be many opportunities that await them depending on how they performed in their studies, and trust me when I say IOE and Microsoft are looking for young talented people to come work with them.” In conclusion Mr. Roberto encouraged Basotho youth to make use of this awesome opportunity. 

Executive director of the association of Lesotho Employers and Business ADV. Lindiwe Sephomolo stated that Tech@work was established by their organization of which they are very proud to be part of such a big project, “ladies and gentlemen we live in a new era and technology seems to have taken over, so it is important for us to invest in the youth so they are well prepared for the future”.

What this is offering is an opportunity of a life time to all regardless of one’s background, “I can attest to it that the training will improve the overall economy of the country. I stand in front of you to edge all the young people to take advantage of this opportunity as this program is an investment in the growth of Lesotho. So please be innovative and bring change to Lesotho”, Lindiwe emphasized.  

A youth representative, founder of Girls Coding Academy Maneo stated that she has employed about 12 people and is looking forward to bringing on board more, however as the youth they encounter some challenges which she hopes that this initiative will also help resolve.  “One thing I have learned is that it is not easy to run a company as a sole proprietor but I am proud to say I am learning as I go, and I will be using this opportunity to get mentorship to run a more sustainable company in the future.” Maneo concluded.