THE Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) has unveiled four enterprise development programmes meant to stem the high unemployment rate.
The programmes were unveiled in Maseru this week, and include the Job Creation Acceleration through SMME Development – an ambitious project aimed at creating over 200 new jobs over the next six months.
BEDCO Chief Executive Officer, ‘Makatleho Matabooe, also launched the revamped Ichorise Mohoebi which is an entrepreneurship capacity building initiative and the Global Entrepreneurship Week. The fourth programme seeks to foster the development of creative arts and crafts among Basotho.
BEDCO is a government parastatal which falls under the Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing in its department of Small Business Development. It is mandated with the establishment and development of Basotho-owned enterprises.
Unveiling the project along with two others namely the revamped Ichorise Mohoebi which is an entrepreneurship capacity building initiative and the Global Entrepreneurship Week, BEDCO’s Chief Executive Officer Dr ‘Makatleho Matabooe said SMME’s are not getting the recognition they deserve, although that was gradually changing as may be seen in the creation of a dedicated ministry dealing with the sector.
Touching on the Job Creation Acceleration through SMME Development programme, Dr Matabooe said it seeks to tap into the potential of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in reducing unemployment.
Lesotho is currently grappling with high levels of unemployment with the unemployment rate among youths estimated to be close to 40 percent.
“It is our hope that these programmes will be a useful tool to equip our people in fighting hunger in the country,” she said.
“It is our understanding that by developing one business entrepreneur, you will be able to influence at least a 100 households through job creation.”
BEDCO has enlisted the services of an independent business development service provider, Daniel Molopi, in implementing the project.
Mr Molopi and his team are currently going around the country to identify 100 business enterprises with the potential for growth.
He told the Lesotho Times on the side-lines of the launch ceremony that the businesses would be assisted to develop further by identifying their barriers to growth and working towards overcoming them through mentoring and handholding.
This means the 100 chosen enterprises will be expected to add at least one new employee to their payroll after the intervention of BEDCO over the next six months ending in March 2018.
“There are different challenges that entrepreneurs encounter in their quest to carry their businesses forward,” he said.
“For one entrepreneur, it may be finding a market for their products. Another may be afraid to get a business loan because they fear defaulting, while someone else may lack the necessary skills in starting a business or linking up with suppliers may be a challenge.”
Mr Molopi continued: “So we are going to select those entrepreneurs with potential and desire to grow. We have ten consultants who are already going around the country’s 10 districts to identify around 10-15 entrepreneurs each.”
Asked how confident he was about pulling off the ambitious project, Mr Molopi said he was counting on the experience he has in the field.
“We have been engaged in this type of job before, although under different circumstances,” he said.
“We have been successful in helping entrepreneurs overcome their various challenges. For example, if it is inability to get a loan due to a badly done business plan, we have been able to make necessary corrections on the business plan until the person gets that loan.”