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Time to be original

by Lesotho Times
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By Tlali Mapetla

I HAVE lived all my life in Lesotho and South Africa.

I therefore feel qualified to bare my thoughts about how Basotho think and relate regarding issues of business.

South Africa was for years dealt a development blow by the policy of apartheid and is still struggling to build itself as a new democracy.

Up until 1998, Lesotho was an oasis for investors, with a lot of foreign and local franchises, tourists and a steady rise in private business.

Since the coup in 1986, Lesotho has slowly rebuilt itself and is slowly gaining back that lustre.

Because we are a growing economy, there is opportunity in every market, with many more sectors yet to be explored.

However as soon as a few seem to have identified new business opportunities and begin to reap the rewards, we wake up the next day and pursue the same business.

This is not a bad thing if we learn from each other, use what we learn to improve and create diversity within the market.

Instead what tends to happen is that we study each other’s business models and practices, seek out the same clients or suppliers and pursue similar interests.

There are various everyday examples of avenues that presented themselves and were quickly overwhelmed by activity.

In the early years of this decade, someone discovered that popcorn was popular, and before you could finish a packet of the stuff, there were vendors with red and white machines at every corner.

 A few years later another bright spark realised the convenience of city cabs and the 4+1 city cab came to life.

Now there are so many of the yellow-lined vehicles that that very convenience is lost in traffic congestion.

T-shirts are the most popular attempt at entrepreneurship these days with every other person printing T-shirts.

This is a great medium of expression, but certainly not the only one.

How about exploring apparel and textile as a whole, from caps right down to socks and underwear? 

To bid for tenders seems to be the latest pot of change, but can we all really deliver?

How about instead of trying to do everything, we as young businessmen and women, focus our companies towards specialising?

The danger of this current “monkey see, monkey do” attitude is the fact that it leads to over-saturation and the breakdown of the potential for growth, before that particular industry can grow.

This can be attributed to lack of experience and the inability to see the bigger picture.

Is it then correct to believe that we fail to use our imagination in building our nation’s future?

Even when the sun is on our backs and nothing but time and opportunity lay before us, we are still waiting for the next person to do something first.

Entertainment is an indicator of growth, and in this sphere there are a few who have carved out their own path and contribute towards the growth of our country.

With her fast-paced manner of radio presenting, Pearl Ocansey, popularly known as Miss P, conducts one of the best radio shows in the country.

The “Blankets and Bling” picnics have become the most popular themed events in the country, taking place once a month at a different location each time.

And if you want to know where everybody is, chances are they are at Litaleng.

Litaleng Leisure Club has managed to accommodate every kind of person, whether for lunch or a night on the town. The simplicity of the set-up makes it a very easy place to hang around at.

We need more entrepreneurs to step up and introduce fresh ideas.

It is inevitable that efforts to copy these themes will come into play, but the execution will not be the same.

In turn this will kill the novelty of these activities and bring them to the ground.

If we all begin to produce original ideas, we add colour to Lesotho’s landscape and build an industry.

Let us identify what we are good at and pursue that wholeheartedly.

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