The Basotho Enterprise Development Cooperation (BEDCO) in partnership with Sekhametsi Investment Consortium (SIC) and Lesotho Post Bank (LPB) hosted a gala dinner aimed at raising funds for the development of up-and-coming entrepreneursâ€™ business acumen and financial capacity as part of the business idea pitching initiative which is a component of the main youth development project under the Access to Finance Stream.
The project which targets young entrepreneurs aged from 18 to 35 years, who need small-scale business loans ranging from M10, 000.00 to M50, 000.00 to finance their start-up ventures, is a move to correct the economic challenges in the country and contribute to job creation.
Speaking at the gala dinner event, the Head Business Enablement of BEDCO TÅ¡epang Tlali said the minds of the youth need to be nourished such that they are able to develop into independent, analytical and problem solving machineries. He therefore urged the business community that was gathered for the launch, to invest in the youth through capacity building and offering platforms within their individual organizations for youth to share their amazing ideas, as that is their responsibility as parents and the leaders of the business industry.
Tlali explained that, BEDCOâ€˜s main goal is to foster Basothoâ€˜s sense of entrepreneurship where Basotho youth are active participants that drive the creation of sustainable employment opportunities for others through youth development projects. He noted that, BEDCO provides access to finance, mentorship and incubation, all under one project and said with the same intention to achieve its mandate of developing Basotho owned businesses, BEDCO has also fostered a five year partnership with the two companies.
According to Junior Chamber Lesotho member, Khereng Khereng, the youth unemployment challenges hinder the youth from active participation in the economic growth of the country. He further said that, the youth need financial independence so that they can contribute positively towards the countryâ€™s economic growth.
For his part, SIC Chairman of the Board Leboela Lebete, stated that, the company is mainly set for investing in local businesses. He said that, they have helped the country in the fight against Covid-19, adding that now they are focused on the effects of the pandemic which have led to youth unemployment.
Meanwhile, Lesotho Post Bank will sponsor the project by providing free banking services to winners of the business plan pitching competition. These services include investments for youth businesses and the distribution of payments.
Requirements for enterprises to qualify for the aid include having a viable and tested business idea/ venture which is owned by a Lesotho citizen. The business should indicate growth potential, targeting four pitching sessions in a year across the whole country which will be held regionally.
The gala dinner saw over M400 000 pledged by the different companies where SIC pledged M300 000.00 towards developing youth businesses as a way to reach out for financial assistance, with Petroleum Fund also pledging M50 000.00 towards Business Idea Pitching. JC Decaux pledged M30 000.00 worth of advertising, Career Development Training Institute pledged M5 000.00, Chaperone M5000.00, My Loan pledged M2500.00 and other anonymous contributors pledged towards the fund raising making an overall total of M407, 500.00.