Female entrepreneurs undergo training

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VCL officials sing with some of the course participants on Tuesday.
VCL officials sing with some of the course participants on Tuesday.

Rethabile Pitso

MEMBERS of six female-run cooperatives on Tuesday completed a course on entrepreneurship and gender rights facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Vodacom Lesotho M-women Programme and SMME Support Network.

The participants, whose enterprises ranged from poultry to community development, had begun the course on 28 June in Sekamaneng, Berea District. Vodacom Lesotho (VCL) gave the six groups a container each, worth M30 000, from which they will be able to sell airtime, low cost handsets, SIM cards and become M-pesa agents.

UNDP and SMME Support Network also facilitated a deal for micro lender Moliko Finance to offer loans to the budding entrepreneurs.

Speaking at the event, Vodacom Foundation Manager Mpho Brown said the support was meant to augment government efforts to eradicate poverty in line with the National Strategic Development Plan.

“Women play a critical role in the economy of a country, with studies having found that women play a 50 percent role in the economy,” Mr Brown said.

“This initiative is meant to take that first step towards helping government achieve its goals.

“As Vodacom Foundation and M-women, we have a strong focus to ensure that women climb the corporate ladder and land senior roles just as their male counterparts.”

The M-women Programme was initially meant to bridge the leadership gender gap within the telecommunications giant with a view to also reforming the corporate world in Lesotho.

However, it has since developed to assist marginalised groups of women.

UNDP Programmes Manager Mabulara Tsuene said the implementation of the training would benefit the women in their financial and social endevours.

“We are grateful to Vodacom and Moliko Finance who have pledged support by offering business containers and micro loans respectively to these women who operate small businesses,” Ms Tsuene said.

“We know it is not a loss for organisations to invest in women as the saying goes; ‘when you build a woman you build a nation’.

“We are also happy that through gender-based knowledge offered during the workshop, these women will also be ambassadors of women rights in their respective business environments and where they live.”

Speaking on behalf of the participants, Makoalai Molikeng said the training had instilled confidence in them to venture into business, and equipped them with knowledge of what is needed for their projects to succeed.

“We have learnt a great deal about how to manage our businesses,” Ms Molikeng said.

“Most of us did not have the confidence to pull it off but after learning about cash flow, assets and a balance sheet, we are now in a better position to run successful businesses.”

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