Nthatuoa Koeshe | Bataung Moeketsi
THE government must create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive instead of becoming a major player at the expense of business.
This was said by the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) interim chief executive officer, Pesha Shale during the ongoing fourth annual Entrepreneurship Exposure Business Summit at Maseru Mall this week.
Now in its fourth edition, the expo is being held by BEDCO in partnership with The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN). It started on 18 November 2019 and ends tomorrow.
The summit is aimed at empowering small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) the theme: Building Sustainable Value Chains.
Industry leaders and experts in agriculture, technology, manufacturing and tourism will be leading panel discussions on each day examining the challenges and benefits that are to be expected in business.
The 231 registered SMMEs are space to market and sell their products at stalls that are placed all over the mall.
Addressing guests at the official opening this week, Mr Shale said start-up businesses were unable to survive in the local economy as they are elbowed out by bigger corporations, whereas the latter should “assist the smaller ones”.
He said entrepreneurship is the key to stimulate the country’s economic growth and that the government’s role is to provide adequate geo-policies instead of meddling in the business space.
“We are at a point where the government is taking the lead and is playing a major role in the eco-system…but that is not the government’s role, it is the space for entrepreneurs,” Mr Shale said.
“The government should provide a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, so we need those policies that enable businesses to survive.”
Mr Shale added that the expo’s theme “Building sustainable value chains” also augurs well with the global entrepreneurship week’s (GEW) four thematic areas namely:
- GEW-education where any level of education can enable people to gather information relevant to business;
- GEW-ecosystem where all segments of business should co-exist to build linkages between large and small businesses;
- GEW-inclusion where all citizen have equal opportunity to be entrepreneurs there should not be gender, age, or disability discrimination;
- And GEW-policy, in the sense that government must create conducive environment through enabling policies and regulations that level the playing field for entrepreneurship and business at large.
Organisers of the event said its goal is to “showcase aspiring entrepreneurs and investors from across the African region to create new opportunities for investment, partnerships and collaborations”.
TEN chairman, Thabo Stephen Monyamane, said the entrepreneurs are expected to address issues that hinder their work.
“A lot of businesses that we are in never grow beyond a certain point because there are so many gaps in any value chain that we have,” Mr Monyamane said.
He said Lesotho must become self-sufficient and in doing so, it was important to take into consideration what the missing links in industry were and how Basotho may participate in them.
Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing Principal Secretary Lerata Pekane said their work was to make that aid small businesses.
He said one of their policies was to help small businesses grow and help them market their products.
“We will not be apologetic about the need to empower our people and we must do it within so that every Mosotho gets a chance to run their own business,” Mr Pekane said.
He said there were laws and principles that must be changed so to accommodate small business holders to enable them to grow.
“The government must change the principles and laws that do not talk to our people.
“We encourage initiatives such as this one so that Basotho in business can take part and learn new ways in helping their business grow,” Mr Pekane said.