THE Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) and Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDCO) have forged a partnership to coordinate the initiation, promotion and development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The partnership was sealed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on Tuesday by LNDC CEO Kelebone Leisanyane and his BEDCO counterpart, Robert Likhang, in Maseru.
Among others, the objectives of the five-year MOU are to enhance the sharing of research information and building technical capacity of BEDCO to effectively deliver on its mandate. BEDCO was established by government in 1980 with the mandate to help establish and develop Basotho-owned enterprises through a number of interventions such as providing workplaces at subsidised rent and capacity-building programmes.
The agreement also enables MSMEs supported, monitored and mentored by BEDCO to have access to LNDC development finance services. It also ensures coordinated efforts in building the skills capacity of personnel involved in enterprise development.
According to Mr Leisanyane, the LNDC will develop 250×500 square metres of its Tikoe Industrial Area for local businesses under the tutelage of BEDCO.
“Besides the work on the almost finished building at Tikoe Industrial Area, which is to be used for foreign direct investment and domestic purposes, we have reserved space of 250×500 square metres which will be developed for incubating local businesses that have outgrown their capacity at BEDCO,” said Mr Leisanyane.
He added that the MOU marked a milestone that would see the two organisations enjoy mutual benefits accrued from their partnership despite being under the purview of different ministries.
The Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing came about following a split of the former Ministry of Trade, Industry, Cooperatives and Marketing.
The LNDC falls under the new Trade and Industry ministry while BEDCO is under the Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing ministry.
“The division of the former Ministry of Trade and Industry Cooperatives and Marketing into two separate ministries was not meant to deter us from working together as business-oriented organisations, but to encourage joint workmanship towards serving the Basotho nation,” noted Mr Leisanyane.
“The LNDC Partial Credit Guarantee scheme as well as the equity financing, that will soon be made available, will benefit BEDCO clients who can access loans not exceeding M200 000 through any local bank. The partnership will ensure that the skills and knowledge small businesses have gained from BEDCO would be backed up financially.”
In his remarks, Mr Likhang said the partnership would mutually benefit small and large businesses alike due to the coordinated efforts.
“We are thankful to the LNDC for this partnership which will not only help us get better with our work, but has established a linkage between micro businesses that will now get assistance to grow into medium and large businesses,” he said.
“For a long time, small businesses have experienced challenges that have hindered them from reaching their full potential. That is why it was important for us to come up with a better approach. With this partnership with the LNDC, we will continuously be seeking new interventions that would benefit local businesses.”
Mr Likhang added that they intent to create an environment where foreign direct investment and local businesses partner in sharing skills and value addition.
“We have noted that among the reasons foreign investors have often been reluctant to come on board was because small businesses lacked capacity,” he said.
“However, by virtue of BEDCO and LNDC being agencies of the two ministries, we hope to ask our respective ministries to set up policies that would effect such relationships.”