Entrepreneurial capacity-buildingWritten by Mzimkhulu Sithetho
A pathway to developing a strong enterprise base in Lesotho:
A case for Ichorise Mohoebi
BEDCO launched its entrepreneurial capacity-building project, Ichorise Mohoebi on 25 November 2013. This was a defining and seminal moment for the Corporation as the project was ushering in a new era in the enterprise development in Lesotho. It was an attempt to equip entrepreneurs with skills on how to start, operate and grow their businesses. It had come to the notice of the Corporation that business enterprise in Lesotho was stagnant for a number of reasons, one being that those involved in business lacked the requisite know-how and the mechanics of running a business and to grow those already operating to greater heights.
First, those who have grand business ideas and would like to develop them into business had no shoulder to lean on so that they end up in business, what kind of business and with what resources. With the Start-Your-Business module, Ichorise Mohoebi was able to equip starters in the business environment with techniques on how they could develop their grand business ideas into real business. Second, there are entrepreneurs who are already in business, but just wanted techniques on how they could possibly operate their business in a professional manner so that they sustain in business. Lack of business acumen has rendered most businesses unsuccessful because they fail to differentiate between their business and their immediate families and personal needs. They see business as an alternative to their needs. Partly so, because one comes to business because there are needs that have to be met and for the fact that capital has been injected into the business, which should give the owner returns. However, the businessman/woman must be able to treat his/her business as an independent entity, which has its own needs. Under Ichorise Mohoebi, businessmen/women were able to tap on the skills on how to operate their businesses better for more returns. They acquired these skills free of charge.
Third, entrepreneurs trained under Ichorise Mohoebi were able to tap on skills on how they could grow their businesses. Every business, just like a human being, must move from point A to point B. This implies growth in terms of profits reaped by the business. It also means growth in terms of the stock the business is capable of purchasing, given financial resources at its disposal, which of course, will bring more profits if sold. Growth also applies to the number of employees a business has. If a business first employed two people when it started, it must be seen to grow to employ more so that there are more hands and heads that add value to the business. Most organisations are stuck in the middle of the road as they cannot realise growth from one level to the next. Under Ichorise Mohoebi, businessmen/women were equipped with relevant skills on how they could do all the mentioned three.
The project recorded a high number of 587 entrepreneurs trained, 348 of which were women, 127 men and 112 were youth. The divisions here are important as they show that the programme catered for the various demographics within society – women, youth and men. Above all, Ichorise Mohoebi demystified and debunked one of the traditional practices and myths where women have lagged far behind as they were not in business. Traditionally, either by default or design, men seemed to take the centre-stage in terms of involvement in business. However, the trend is gradually changing and this has been evidenced by Ichorise Mohoebi. It therefore says, if these 348 women who were lucky to acquire skills under the project can get into business or improve their businesses, tapping on the skills they obtained from the project, Lesotho will make a dent in terms of women empowerment, especially as regards business.
Fourth, youth also remain on the side-lines of society when it comes to business. They remain one of the vulnerable and forgotten age groups who are pushed to the margins of society, but who are only active during elections when they dip their fingers in the ink to elect leaders, and mostly they elect male adult people who turn their backs against them once in power.
They will be remembered in the next poll. Under Ichorise Mohoebi, a great lot of idle youth got trained and this has had a positive multiplier effect for the envisaged development of Lesotho. If those 112 youth could start their own businesses, they can change the economic and socio-economic landscape of the country by reducing the high unemployment in Lesotho, much of which features youth. The next step for them is to craft attractive and selling business plans and submit them to banks to solicit funding of their businesses. Writing business plans was one of the modules under Inchorise Mohoebi. If the Partial Guarantee Scheme had been rightly-placed under BEDCO, it would be handy as women, youth and men who have been trained under Ichorise Mohoebi project would be able to tap on the funding and start their own businesses.
Ichorise Mohoebi also did wanders by training 35 consultants who added value as trainers for MSMEs who reaped benefit from the project. This pool of consultants will be remembered in the future when training programmes come emerge at the Corporation. BEDCO is overwhelmed by this development under the Ichorise Mohoebi Project, which was testimony to the fulfilment of the Corporation’s core mandate of developing and promoting entrepreneurship in Lesotho. This mandate is unambiguously spelt out in the founding Act that established the Corporation 34 years ago. The achievement under Ichorise Mohoebi is evidence to the Corporation’s slogan – ‘we grow business.’ Indeed, we did it under the project and are looking forward to Phase II of the project in anticipation of more entrepreneurs to be trained and developed.