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Trade minister espouses mindset shift on entrepreneurship


Neo Matheka

The Minister of Trade & Industry, Business Development & Tourism, Mokhethi Shelile, says youths should not be burdened with the responsibility of venturing into business instead pensioners should go into business.

Shelile was speaking during Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation’s (BEDCO) Business Plan Competition (BPC) awarding ceremony, last Friday at Victory Hall in Maseru.

Under the competition, which is supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) through the Economic Diversification Support Project under the ministry, 50 aspiring youth entrepreneurs were each awarded M100 000 in seed capital to develop their winning business projects.

Shelile said while the BPC was a good initiative, there should not be too much pressure placed on the youth to venture into business since many of them were inexperienced and might not have the requisite financial capacity.

He also called for the youth to be given equal opportunity to be employed in the civil service, which would assist them to become future employers when they finally retire.

“We should look into those who are retiring to start these businesses we always urge the youth to start,” Shelile said.

On his part, acting BEDCO chief executive officer, TÅ¡epang Tlali, said the seed capital is put in place to ensure the growth and sustainability of the businesses chosen by the judges.

“The competition targeted businesses in the sectors of agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and technology,” he said.

He said this time around there was an encouraging representation of winners from other districts apart from Maseru; something which has not been the case in the past editions of the competition.

 â€œYouth in the rural areas are not as technologically savvy as the youth in the urban areas, especially Maseru and as a result, we will be exploring interventions that will help to bridge the digital divide,” he added.

There were also more female winners than males in the competition this time around.

Tiisetso Sefatsane, a past BPC beneficiary who is the CEO of AgriHive Garden PTY LTD, urged the new winners to work hard and embrace the business challenges they were going to come across in order to be successful.

She said running a business was very rewarding as one gets to see their dream materialising before their eyes, although it requires patience and hard work.

The project was initially launched in 2019 with 10 winners going home with the awarded capital for their businesses. The number has since increased to fifty and there is hope that the competition will award more aspiring business people.

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