The Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDCO), along with Nedbank Lesotho hosted an International Womenâ€™s Day (IWD) commemoration event at Maseru Avani in celebration of Basotho women entrepreneurs this week.
The two institutions pledged to fork-out lucrative sums to assist women in the entrepreneurship industry in a bid to underpin their businesses that are said to be subjected to negative perceptions and stereotypical feelings.
The ceremony was held under the theme â€œcelebrate womenâ€™s achievement, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.â€
Speaking at the event, Nedbank Lesotho Small Medium (SME) Enterprise Manager, Thato Phohlo stated that the role of Nedbank is to enable women entrepreneurs in Lesotho hence the bank has decided to partner with BEDCO as it is already working with SMEs.
Phohlo said that Nedbank Lesotho is willing to assist women SMEs in Lesotho through BEDCO. She further indicated that the bank has been involved in different industries including hospitality, construction where they were impressed by the number of women who are in construction business.
She mentioned that the bank has many solutions for the different needs of the entrepreneurs including the overdrafts which entrepreneurs could use to buy stock. Adding that for other long term needs the bank provides loans for the entrepreneurs urging the opportunity and reach out to the business loans at the bank.
The objective of the event was to provide a platform through which women entrepreneurs could highlight the successes, breakthroughs, opportunities and challenges they face in business.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Betty Wabunoha highlighted that, the culture and stereotypes in women entrepreneurship needs to be solved. She stated that all roles that are expected to be intimately possessed and socially performed by women and men becomes stereotyped when it limits them to their abilities and to pursue their professional career as well as making choices for their lives.
Wabunoha said the whole issue of gender stereotypes is not necessarily about women, but apply to men too. She said women all over the world are defined by their capabilities rather than their contribution to development and the definitions are also determined by their eligibility, accountability and capabilities which at times affect their growth.
Gathered at the event were small, medium and large enterprise women business owners. 71 entrepreneurs registered online to physically attend the celebration.
It was in the same event where the speakers, moderators and panelists shared their life experiences including the accounts from numerous audience members.
BEDCO Chief Executive Officer, Idia Penane said BEDCO will continue to create platforms that will celebrate and bring Basotho women in business together.
She said she followed her motherâ€™s footsteps in entrepreneurship as she was raised in a family business which groomed her into the woman she is. She encouraged women in entrepreneurship to be role models to the upcoming young women of Lesotho for the better future and women empowerment.
â€œAs BEDCO we would like to commit to making this women network and socialising annually in order to fully reach out to women in entrepreneurship,â€ Penane said.
The panel discussion was moderated by media personality Nthakoana Ngatane, the panelists comprised of A&C Holdings Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Palesa Monkhi, Mahlakapese Holdings CEO MatÅ¡eliso Mokuoane and Spec Savers CEO Mamello Maxine Foloko.
Furthermore, womenâ€™s and childrenâ€™s rights activist Lineo Tsikoane-Badia moderated the latter topicsâ€™ panel discussion where the panelists included Phano ea Bophelo Beauty & Spa CEO â€˜Maphano Mohapi, Physical Wellness Centre Counselling Managing Director Lebohang â€˜Masekhonyana Bereng and Lekatsa Butchery & Catering Co-Founder Thato Lekatsa.