THE Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) run Business Plan Competition (BPC) is set to make a return following its successful pilot in 2019.
The competition is meant to incentivise young and innovative people who have credible business ideas with access the financial support they need to build sustainable enterprises that can create employment.
The BPC is part of the broad African Development Bank (AfDB) supported Economic Diversification Support Project (EDSP) being championed by the government. The BPC is being implemented by BEDCO.
Commenting on the scheduled return of the competition, EDSP project manager, Chaba Mokuku, said the plan was to empower youths to participate meaningfully in job creation, which is a serious challenge for Lesotho.
While the date for the submission of applications is yet to be announced, the competition will return with an improved monetary prize of M10 million up from the initial M1 million.
In the pilot phase, 10 winners each walked away with M100 000 but the new competition will now see 50 winners each pocketing M100 000 for the next two years.
The BPC also includes equipping participants with business skills training and incubation services.
“The idea is to scale up the competition so that we can have more youths and women starting their own companies and creating jobs,” Mr Mokuku said.
“This is part of our effort to diversify the economy by empowering the youth and women to engage in business and participate in existing value chains in the economy.”
He said the pilot phase of the BPC revealed that business skills were just as important as access to finance for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) development.
“The pilot project of the competition showed clearly that apart from the need for financing, young business people also require capacitation with the skills to start, sustain and grow their businesses. Our call now is for large enterprises to support young businesses by engaging them in their value chains as well as buying their products and using their services.”
Under EDSP is a project targeting development of SMEs called Promoting Enterprise Development (PED). PED supports development of SMEs through distinct work streams namely, assessing the current business development service providers’ market and developing an appropriate market growth strategy for them.
The project also nurtures start-up businesses and entrepreneurs through development of a strategy and implementation plan for business incubation.
Another stream is concerned with designing and launching the BPC to incentivise young and innovative people with credible business ideas to access support.