By: Thandiwe Kubere

The Lesotho Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed Financing Facility, on Friday hosted the 2023/2024 cohort of 50 enterprises, for their induction and declaration of commitment to the Competitiveness and Financial Inclusion (CAFI) 6 months incubation programme that started. This was aimed at preparing Basotho entrepreneurs in their dedication to grow businesses and perform at a global scale, as well as to enhance job creation and opportunities.

Having made a call for applications through CAFI, under five Enterprise Support Organizations (ESOs) leading the cohort, namely BEDCO, GEM Institute, Limkokwing Enterprise Acceleration Platform (LEAP), NUL Innovation Hub, and The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN), each finally got to their top 10 enterprises, which summed up to a total of 50 enterprises for incubation and early-financing process. The enterprises, which were selected predominantly focusing on women and youth for capacitation, are to get a seed funding of USD $7000.

The 6 months incubation program spans across an array of industries with the potential to reintroduce Lesotho to the World, Deputy Programme Manager at The Entrepreneurship Hub, Mrs. Mamashiya Ntšepeng Tšita Tikiso declared.  The aim is to increase access to business support services and financial products, where The Lesotho Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed Financing will work closely with the ESOs in the coming six months to effectively capacitate them.

During this period, the enterprises will go through skills and capacity building so as to elevate and grow businesses with the aid of the ESOs. Each ESO team will be composed of a certified manager to help put and active the program. The program manager will coordinate projects across and follow program goals while maintaining a high level of detail for each project and ensure that enterprises are capacitated with the skills they need, thus reaching the ultimate objective.

There will also be technical support in place as well as mentors who are experienced across different fields and practice within businesses similar to the enterprises, who will assist in sharpening their knowledge on business so that when the period is over, entrepreneurs are able to stand independently and are well accustomed with running a business in a way which guarantees its success and assures its sustainability.

This comes with the Hub’s mandate of increasing the quality and scope of integrated start-up business support services and increase access to early-stage financing. The anticipated results therefore, are Basotho-owned businesses becoming successful and competing at a global scale, improving the country’s economy due to having value exchange in the country, such that there is an array of different products and services supply in the country. Additionally, more businesses are expected to grow such that they foster employment and help in curbing the high rate of unemployment.

The CAFI project manager, Mr. Chaba Mokuku noted the incubation period will be the beginning, as the enterprises will join and be part of the alumni for an even better business network and resource support cycle. Better yet, 50 enterprises out 500 to be incubated, which will work harder and excel will be part of the Acceleration Program for further supports and additional funds of USD $50,000.

CAFI is supporting the establishment of the Lesotho Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed Financing with the objective to strengthen the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in Lesotho and to improve access to early-stage finance for start-ups and innovative Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The LEH&SFF aims to achieve this objective by providing business support services, entrepreneurship training, and access to capital for Basotho start-ups and innovative SMEs over a period of five years.