By: Mpho Shelile

Standard Lesotho Bank (SLB), in collaboration with the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) and the Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL), launches the 2024 phase of the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project (BEP), at Lakeside Maseru on May 14th 2024. 

This initiative is aimed at empowering young Basotho entrepreneurs and addressing unemployment among not only graduates but even those who did not have the privilege of higher education.

The project targets young unemployed Basotho aged 21 to 35, encouraging them to become business owners and economic drivers. The BEP, which started in 2014, focuses on fostering entrepreneurial skills among the youth, creating job opportunities, and reducing poverty.

This collaboration underscores a shared commitment to nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit within the youth, thereby contributing to economic growth and job creation in Lesotho.

During the launch, Keketso Makara, Head, Business & Commercial Clients of SLB, emphasizes the critical role of youth entrepreneurship in the nation’s economic development.

He also uses the platform to thank all those who have been working with them for the past ten years. “We believe that by supporting young entrepreneurs, we are not only investing in their futures but also in the future of our country. The Bacha Entrepreneurship Project provides a platform for young minds to innovate, create, and transform their ideas into viable businesses.”

BEDCO’s Executive Head of Enterprise Development, Lemphane Lesoli highlights the importance of equipping young entrepreneurs with the necessary tools and resources.

“Through our collaboration with SLB and RSL, we aim to provide comprehensive support that includes training, mentorship, and access to funding. This holistic approach is designed to address the various challenges that young entrepreneurs face.”

He adds that this year they will be awarding five aspiring entrepreneurs, providing them with M1.4 million as their financial support, in representation of a significant opportunity for talented innovators to turn their dreams into a reality, and make a positive change into the economy of Lesotho.

Stating that with an investment of 8.8 million they have supported the dreams and ambitions of 28 businesses while at the same time provided employment to 120 young individuals.

“As we embark on this new chapter, I am free to announce that the doors of proposals will now be open to all industries, whether you are passionate about technology, tourism, agriculture or any other sector, we invite you to submit your innovative ideas and bold initiatives,” says Lesoli.

Further stating that it is about time the youth turned their dreams into a reality and unleash their full potential. 

Representing the RSL, Tšepang Nqena, stresses the importance of fostering a conducive business environment.

“By ensuring that young entrepreneurs understand and comply with tax regulations, we are helping them build sustainable businesses. Our role in the BEP is to provide guidance on compliance, which is crucial for long-term success.”

Training and Development includes comprehensive workshops and training sessions covering business planning, financial management, marketing strategies, and how to write a proper business proposal.

Applications will be closed on June 28th 2024. She concludes by calling all aspiring young entrepreneurs to apply for the program, which promises to be a transformative journey towards business success,

“I believe that the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project represents a beacon of hope and opportunity for young Basotho, driving innovation and economic resilience in the Kingdom of Lesotho. As the project kicks off its 2024 phase, it is set to inspire and equip a new generation of business leaders,” she says.