THE implementation of the Bacha Entrepreneurship project, which seeks to foster youth participation in business, is ahead of schedule, the project’s spokesperson Pheello Mphana has said.
The Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) Standard Lesotho Bank and Basotho Entrepreneurship Development Corporation (BEDCO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last December that sought to find solutions to the spiralling youth unemployment by capacitating them with entrepreneurship skills.
The project’s main focus is on young unemployed graduates between the ages of 21 and 35 with a view to making them employers and drivers of economic growth by becoming entrepreneurs.
The graduates must have completed their studies and should not have been formally employed after attaining their qualifications. Proposals will not be limited to any particular area of interest or discipline, but selected only on merit based on viability, a strong business case and longevity.
Out of all the proposals received, the top 25 will be short-listed for final selection. The shortlisted candidates will then receive entrepreneurial training for two weeks and, thereafter, fine-tune and resubmit their proposals for final selection. After resubmission, three of the best proposals will then receive a combined start-up capital of M500 000 to put their plans into action.
Mr Mphana said the first part of the project was expected to commence in March when a panel of adjudicators would be chosen to oversee the selection process.
“We planned to bring the adjudicators in March with one representative from the LRA, Standard Lesotho Bank, BEDCO, Lesotho Institute of Accounting (LIA) and a representative from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Gender,” Mr Mphana said.
“The publicity campaign to relay the information to the youth has been ongoing in the media since December and we will be accepting invitations until the end of February.
“When the three best proposals have been chosen, the remaining 22 will be given a chance to hone their entrepreneurial skills in the other projects BEDCO is already running.”
He also encouraged youths to make use of the information available at advice centres which have been set up at BEDCO district offices and some Standard Lesotho Bank branches, adding that they should apply before the 13 March 2015 deadline.
Mr Mphana also reassured Basotho that the project is genuine, and that it would not be disturbed by the upcoming general elections as the three organisations are determined to see it through for the sake of the youth.
“We have intensified our campaign to ensure the elections do not delay or disrupt us in any way, because the process is supposed to take a year. We will not wait to assist the youth at a later stage because the time to act is now,” he said.
Meanwhile, a young entrepreneur, Rabele Mangaliso Makakole, said similar projects in the past had only benefitted the politically connected, adding he hoped it wouldn’t be the case this time around.