Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO)
Enterprise development is the bone-marrow of every economy in the world. This assertion is premised on the notion that the private sector is the main employer in a properly organised economy. The private sector has all the skills, knowledge and expertise required to drive the economy. In instances where the public sector remains the dominant employer, then there is a problem with that economy in the long-term. The public sector should only act as a catalyst for the private sector to thrive and ultimately create jobs.
The facilitation that the public sector provides to the private sector is through provision of the core services such as tax collection, facilitating trade through effective trade policies, provision of a sound one-stop shop facility for services such as company registration and many more. Therefore, the Government employs people with skills in the public service to facilitate the operation of the business and the private sector, but it does not create jobs through the civil service. The Government also plays the referee (regulatory) role, market and price controller, overseer of financial institutions as well as other institutions that help the private sector thrive. This allows the private sector to be at the coalface of manufacturing, production and retail and this formula results in job creation.
Lesotho’s economy has been affected by the economic meltdown, which also sent economic shockwaves across the globe. With unclear recovery plans, the Least Developed Countries like Lesotho have been "hit below the belt". However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope as the country is beginning to make some inroads (at the back of declining imports). On another scale, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), of which its full concessions are ending in 2015 has a threatening effect on the country’s economic growth, in particular the growth contributed by the textile industry. Other economic shocks are those experienced as a result of the decline in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) revenues, closure of Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) and other major projects, which will bring serious challenges to the economy.
The contemporary private sector development has featured the invaluable role played by the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). This is the core of economic growth - MSMEs have proven elsewhere that they are the nerve centre of any economy that wants to grow. This is so because it is where exchange of money takes place on a daily basis. In advanced economies, MSMEs are given prime attention and a bulk of budget goes towards the development of enterprises, especially at the micro, small and medium levels because these are the entry level businesses that become the economic hubs.
In Lesotho, enterprise development has gained momentum and has become the focus of Government in the recent years. This might be attributed to a number of factors such as a lopsided economy that is characterised by incoherent policy framework, supply and demand side constraints, weak visioning at national level which is exacerbated by weak political will to drive the economy. This therefore meant the Government historically focused on building its architecture, bureaucracy, public service machinery to the exclusion of the private sector and other ancillary sectors. This fact is evidenced by weak primary economic sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, mining and technology-led strategies. However, recently there has been a reawakening to the reality in that the Government of Lesotho has shown signs of political will to support MSME development as a way to achieve private sector led economic growth. This is manifested by the increasing budgetary allocation to the sector and the inclusion of the MSME agenda in the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP).
It was against this background that the Government of Lesotho decided to establish an implementing agency for the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Cooperatives and Marketing to focus on enterprise development, the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO), more than three decades ago.
Where does BEDCO come from and why was it established?
Driven by the quest to reduce poverty and create employment through a strong private sector, BEDCO was established to grow domestic entrepreneurs who will ensure that Lesotho’s economy is not driven mainly by the government through the civil service. Also cognizant of the fact that a weak private sector is a setback to job creation and an engine of economic growth.
Therefore, over the years, BEDCO has treaded the journey of developing and promoting entrepreneurs, especially at the micro, small and medium levels. It therefore became a niche for the Corporation that it deals with MSMEs though its mandate which is explicitly spelt out in its founding document (BEDCO Act No.0 of 1980). Today, BEDCO is 35 years BEDCO has been a seedbed for entrepreneurial development and growth through a number of interventions such as capacity-building, business coaching, advisory and mentorship. The bulk of its interventions has been to capacitate entrepreneurs in order to acquire skills and acumen required for them to start, operate and growth their businesses.
Where is BEDCO currently?
Today, BEDCO is a trusted partner among MSMEs, stakeholders and other business development agencies. This is manifested by the services that are sought from the Corporation every day by individuals willing to start their own enterprises and those who are already in business, but would like to sharpen their skills. Also, the number of Memoranda of Understanding (MOU)that the Corporation has signed with BDOs – Mineworkers Development Agency (MDA), Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), Action Lesotho and many others. These partnerships are intended to optimally utilize limited resources (financial and others) for the benefit of enterprise development. BEDCO also emerged as a partner of choice among BDO from other countries such as the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) of South Africa, Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) of Botswana and Small Enterprises Development Company (SEDCO) of Swaziland. Also financing institutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa have also come handy in solidifying relations with this giant corporation in enterprise development. The Corporation is also a member of renowned organisations such as the Southern African Development Community – Development Finance Resource Centre (SADC-DFRC). BEDCO assumed chairmanship of the Audit & Risk Committee of the SADC DFRC.
Where it is intending to go?
BEDCO’s future is very bright in the MSNME development. This notion is triggered by three reasons. One, there seems to be political will from the government, this having been given credence by the establishment of the Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives & Marketing which works directly with MSME development. Hope is that existence of the ministry will ensure that the Draft MSME Policy is endorsed by Cabinet and put into practice. It will level the field for this great sector (MSME Sector) which is thrust in job creation. The field needs a conducive legislative and policy framework that will allow those in the coalface of the practice (entrepreneurs) to ply their trade. Two, BEDCO is in the process of reshaping its focus to be mainly thrust in the core business of enterprise development and leave other ancillary functions such as training to relevant training institutions. This is to ensure that the Corporation remains relevant to its core mandate of establishment and development of indigenous Basotho-owned enterprises. Loyalty to this mandate will mean that the Corporation sheds away any other function that would otherwise consume resources in a manner that is not optimal to the ideal core business. Three, the Corporation has crafted revamped its business model so that it attains the intended results. Its business model is such that our interventions are informed by research, which will inform decisions taken on what interventions are appropriate to what we are doing as a Corporation. Then we focus on access to finance, access to working space, capacity-building and then access to markets. The programmes that we have crafted – productivity-based (Iketsetse with main thrust in promoting rural-based productivity), capacity-building (Ichorise Mohoebi), Use and adoption of technology for business, leveraging, crating linkages and supplier development (Corporate Enterprise Development Investment) are all directed towards making a change in the MSMEs’ traditional ways of doing things
How does it intend on getting there?
As indicated above, BEDCO intends to put a cog into the machine by turning our vision into practice and ensuring that our mission matches our daily activities. BEDCO has put up strategies for implementing the business model is has crafted. It is bent on buidoing capacity by engaging more business consultants who are in the coalface of the doing. Though few in numbers, they are scattered throughout the six districts where the Corporation is found. However, we have realized that our presence in the districts is not that much pronounced given the few numbers of consultants. The idea of regionalizing and branching has not yielded much, but the current Strategic Plan, which was reviewed a couple of months go is intended to breed a new thinking in as far as the regionalization project is concerned. Senior consultants are to be engaged to lead the regions – Central (Maseru, Teyateyaneng and Thaba-Tseka), North (Leribe,, Botha-Bothe and Mokhotlong) and South (Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Qacha’s Nek). BEDCO is also intendeing to reinvigorate its Market Access unit so that it hits the ground in unlocking markets (local and international for entrepreneurs’ products). A comprehensive marketing strategy is already in the offing and will be shaped and shared with stakeholders. A new approach to participation of our entrepreneurs in regional and international markets such as the annual Source Africa is been looked at closely.
The other area is that has warranted the attention of the Corporation has been that of stakeholder management and coordination where BEDCO intends to bring to its fold, all those that directly or indirectly influence has the Corporation does things. These are the entrepreneurs themselves, the government, BDOs, media and clients and customers who consume our services. These are crucial in shaping the direction that BEDO wants to take.
To become a partner of first choice in enterprise development.
To build sustainable enterprises contributing to national economic growth.
- BEDCO works to achieve the following objectives:
- To produce as many entrepreneurs as possible in Lesotho.
- To contribute to the economic development of Lesotho through the growth of entrepreneurship.
- To build a strong private sector that emanates from a strong enterprise and business environment.
The mandate of BEDCO, which is the reason for its existence is that of the establishment and development of Basotho-owned enterprises.
- We are driven by these shared values in all we do. We are:
- Accountable to the public
- Responsive to the people we serve
- Sensitive to the sustainability of our planet, and
- Professional and transparent in all our dealings.
BEDCO operates four main programmes:
- Business Advisory
- Business Training
- Business Support
- Technical Training
Business Rental Unit
As part of our mandate BEDCO also make available space for business to operate from.
We operate in the following regions: