M10m earmarked for small businesses

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Lijeng Ranooe/ Tokelo Rasephei

GOVERNMENT has set aside M10 million to facilitate the growth of small businesses which are seen as key to the growth of the country’s economy.

Small Business Development, Co-operatives and Marketing Minister, Chalane Phori, revealed this during a recent seminar conducted by the Lesotho Post Bank in Teyateyaneng to raise awareness among the business community in the Berea district about the benefits of enhancing their businesses through the bank’s initiatives.

It was also revealed at the seminar that the ministry and Lesotho Post Bank had signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate financial assistance to small businesses owned by Basotho in an effort to enhance the socio-economic development of the country.

“As the ministry, we are keen to meet Basotho halfway in developing their businesses,” Mr Phori said, adding, “Our ministry and Lesotho Post Bank are working together to empower small scale businesses to become financially stable and accountable”.

He said it was vital for Basotho to support Lesotho Post Bank as it was the only bank that is wholly owned by Basotho and it is mandated to supporting the growth of locally-owned businesses.

He also said that it is essential for business owners to participate in the economic growth of the country and also called on the public to support locally-owned businesses by buying their products.

The minister also emphasised government’s commitment to ensuring a clean and conducive operating environment for the country’s vendors.

For his part, Molefi Leqhaoe, the Managing Director of Lesotho Post Bank, said that it was important for small businesses to join the Lesotho Post Bank in order to facilitate their growth.

He said opening Lesotho Post Bank accounts enabled them to access the much-needed business loans at reasonably low interest rates.

Mr Leqhaoe further said they were committed to stabilising small businesses by helping to reduce their operational costs.

“Lesotho Post Bank was established to meet the needs of Basotho and we aim to become the leading bank in the country. We are therefore in the process of transforming the Lesotho Post Bank to the Development Bank of Lesotho”, he said.

The Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Joang Molapo, also attended the event and urged the entrepreneurs to work together to improve the country’s economic growth.

He said Basotho were primarily responsible for the country’s economic development and therefore, government would assisting them to grow their businesses.

Meanwhile, Lesotho Postbank and the Ministry of Small Business signed a MoU where the former will provide financial assistance to small businesses owned by Basotho in an effort to enhance the socio-economic development of the country.

Mr Phori and Mr Leqhaoe signed on behalf of the two parties at the bank’s offices in Maseru on Friday.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr Leqhaoe said the bank was committed to supporting small businesses.

“It is our duty to alleviate the financial challenges small businesses encounter, such as access to services, financial inclusion and literacy.

“We are fully aware that banks only service 20 percent of Basotho and we felt it necessary to involve the Ministry of Small Business in order to encourage and support business development in Lesotho.

“We want to ensure that small businesses become a stable part of the economy and they grow and hire more people each year to reduce unemployment.”

He also revealed that the bank would offer house, car, business and property loans with shorter processing periods than what other banks offered.

For his part, Mr Phori said that business development was only possible through financial assistance and it was therefore imperative for his ministry to work together with Lesotho Post Bank to facilitate growth.

“The MoU seeks to encourage the formation of business start-ups as well as to help all SMEs to grow. All Basotho have a right to be recognised as business people and I could not be more excited to sign the MoU,” Mr Phori said.

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