Entrepreneurship: ‘Youths under informed’
YOUNG people need to be informed about the entrepreneurial opportunities available to them to avoid adding to the ranks of the unemployed.
This was said by Academic Youth Progress chairperson and co-founder, Kopano Sekhoari, in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.
Academic Youth Progress is a career guidance organisation formed last year by three National University of Lesotho (NUL) students to equip learners at schools around the country.
Tsotang Mokone and Thabiso Ramakoae are the other founding members of the organisation.
Mr Sekhoari said most youths failed to make use of various organisations that could assist them to establish enterprises and become employers instead of employees.
“There are some bodies that foster the development of businesses such as the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) and Lesotho National Development Corporation,” he said.
“There are also platforms like The Hook Up Dinner in which entrepreneurs network and pitch business ideas. Unfortunately, there is very little uptake from young people.”
Mr Sekhoari gave the example of the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) stipends some tertiary level students are issued, saying most of his colleagues blow the money instead of saving it to start a business.
He said career guidance sessions they undertook at Tšepo High School, Thetsane High School and Sacred Heart High School recently made them realise the vital need to equip young people with information.
“It is our firm belief that Lesotho has the potential for tremendous growth both economically and socially,” Mr Sekhoari said, adding that it could only be achieved with the impartation of crucial skills and promotion of entrepreneurship throughout the country.
“We realised that the private sector is weak not because young people lack funding, it is because they lack motivation and awareness.”
In many instances, he said, students felt embarrassed to be enrolled at vocational institutions “which are actually the most useful in terms of entrepreneurship”.
“Our aim is to instill a change of mentality into students who are ready to go to universities and make them aware of the opportunities they have.
“Many young people believe that enrolling at the well-known universities is the only way to make it in life when in actual fact it is the other way round.
“Theories taught in universities sometimes lack the skills needed to produce something that can generate income.”
In its career guidance sessions, Academic Youth Progress brings along people from various professional spheres to share their experiences and expertise with the students.
“We work hand in hand with tertiary educational institutions in Lesotho, to enable them to spell out to potential students their enrollment expectations for different courses.”
Last year, the Academic Youth Progress concept was the winning idea at the United Nations SDG Challenge competition with the theme “Disconnection between Education and the Labour Force” which elicited a $2 000 prize.