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BEDCO and partners seek to unlock youth business potential  

Business

Seabata Mahao

Young entrepreneurs across the country have a significant opportunity to secure business funding and technical support through the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project (BEP).

This initiative, spearheaded by the Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDCO), Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL), and Standard Lesotho Bank (SLB), will distribute M1.4 million in seed funding to five top applicants.

The primary goal of the BEP is to support young entrepreneurs and address the pressing issue of unemployment in Lesotho.

BEDCO’s Executive Head of Enterprise Development, Lemphane Lesoli, said they were keen to receive applications from young talented minds from around the country.

“This initiative has been the cornerstone of our commitment to fostering innovation of empowerment and economic growth within the youth of our country,” Lesoli said.

“This year we will be selecting and funding five aspiring entrepreneurs with financial support, so this represents a significant opportunity for talented individuals with innovative ideas to turn their dreams into a reality and make a positive impact on our society,” he added. 

Lesoli said this was the chance for the youth to turn their visions into a reality, to unleash their creativity, and also contribute to a vibrant tapestry of the economy. He added that this was also a platform for collaboration, mentorship, and growth.

Tšepang Mncina, RSL’s Public Relations Manager, detailed the rigorous selection process, which ensures only the most promising entrepreneurs are chosen.

Mncina explained that the project involves multiple screening stages before the final selection of the top five finalists. She said these include the submission of applications from across the country, followed by a preliminary screening to eliminate those who do not qualify.

“We will then have the panel of adjudicators made up of Lesotho Chamber of Commerce (LCCI), The Entrepreneurship Network (TEN), and Ministry of Gender and Youth representatives. The panel has to shortlist 50 applicants, who will undergo a two-week training to draw proper business proposals so that they can refine their final proposals, which will be shortlisted into the top 15,” she said.

“The top 15 will go through pitching and psychological processes to confirm their eagerness for entrepreneurship. The panel will then select the final five proposals which will be awarded the seed funding,” she added.

SLB’s Head of Business and Commercial Banking, Keketso Makara, reflected on the decade-long impact of the BEP, which was initiated to equip Basotho youth with the skills and capital needed to launch their businesses and reduce unemployment.

“We are proud to be able to continue this journey because we believe that is meant to change people’s lives. We have seen in the past the participants of this program that have changed their own lives and the lives of those have employed in their business as well as those they are giving services and products to,” Makara said.

“During the next few months, the young minds of this country will be given tools on how to effectively run their businesses,” he added.

Since its inception, BEP has invested over M8.8 million in supporting the dreams and ambitions of more than 28 businesses, providing employment opportunities to over 103 young individuals.

The deadline for applications is June 28, and the project is open to youth between the ages of 18 and 35.

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