Monday, 10 November 2014 09:06

BEDCO SHOWCASES ITS PROJECTS TO THE PUBLIC Featured

Written by 

MASERU – Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation
BEDCO) showcased its projects to the public at a breakfast show that was staged with the Thahameso morning programme of Lesotho's only Television Station, Lesotho Television. The event took place on Thursday, 06 November, 2014 at 06:00am – 06:55. The theme of the show, which was 'Entrepreneurship, the gateway to job-creation and poverty-alleviation in the coming years to realise Lesotho's medium and long-term goals contained in the National Strategic Development Plan – NSDP 2012/2013-2016/2017), was witnessed by about 50 participants who had weathered the cold morning.

BEDCO's Chief Executive Officer, Mr Robert Likhang provided a detailed account of the Corporation five projects, Entrepreneurial capacity-building (Ichorise Mohoebi Project),Rural productivity (Iketsetse Project),End-to-end business incubation processes (Qhotsiso Project),Corporate social investment trickle down to promote business (Corporate Enterprise Development Investment Project) and ICT-led business (Khoebo le marang-rang Project).

His discussant was Mr Puseletso Sale, the Chief Executive Officer of Mineworkers Development Agency (MDA). The coming together of the two organisations was solidified by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two organisations.

Ichorise Mohoebi (Rural Productivity Project)
BEDCO launched its entrepreneurial capacity-building project, Ichorise Mohoebi on 25 November 2013. This was a defining moment for the Corporation as the project was received with a lot of ecstasy by the skills-hungry entrepreneurs who showed in great numbers, registering for the various modules of the project.

Introduction of the project then was an attempt to equip entrepreneurs with skills on how to start, operate and grow their businesses. The project was a result of the Corporation's introspection into its business development programme that had identified challenges such as the stagnation of business enterprise in Lesotho for a number of reasons. One was 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.

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.

The project trained 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.

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. The second phase will be more focused and will hinge on agriculture, crafts and green technologies.

Iketsetse (Rural Productivity Project)
Iketsetse is a rural productivity project that is implemented in both rural and peri-urban areas of Lesotho. Intention of the project is to enhance livelihoods of the rural communities. It is a poverty alleviation programme that is aimed at assisting rural communities to engage in self-employment activities using resources available in their areas to produce indigenous products. The programme aims to empower and capacitate rural communities to be economically active and independent.

The project will establish ongoing self-sufficient small-scale income-generating activities for rural communities. It will rehabilitate and empower rural communities by maximising self-employment. It will facilitate small-scale business skills development at community level, maximise sustainable development by utilising local resources whenever possible and integrate local traditional designs and techniques.
In so doing, the project will consequently instil entrepreneurial culture and help rural communities to fain self-confidence starting their own businesses and promote tourism by producing and selling local products made from natural resources, which will increase preservation of such resources.

One of its major aims is to encourage rural communities to take part in issues of waste management in ways that can help them generate income for themselves and to promote value-adding technologies such as quality control and packaging and develop the market both locally and regionally.

Thuso ea likhoebo tse kholo kholisong ea tse nyenyane (Corporate Enterprise Development Investment)
It is universally accepted that corporates have an obligation to act as responsible corporate citizens. This is so because corporates get their profits from members of society, with whom they indirectly have a social contract. Corporates extract minerals and use resources that naturally inhere to citizens. Therefore, there is an obligation that demands of corporates to plough back to society through projects that are intended to contribute to the socio-economic development of citizens.

The principle behind CSI is to take cognisance of the fact that corporates operate within a society (people) and utilise resources (planet) to maximise profits. As a way of showing recognition for and observance of the value of the planet and the people who live in it, corporates have an obligation to strike a balance between their use of the planet for their profit-maximisation by ploughing back to society so that the causal link between the 3Ps (profit, people and planet) is observed.

To ensure success of the project, BEDCO will tap on the Corporate Social Investment projects of other corporates, which are geared towards adding value to societal social and economic development. It will forge partnerships with corporates so that they channel their financial resources towards development of entrepreneurship in Lesotho, there would be positive multiplier effects that could be realised. It will lobby them to invest in enterprise development as a result of the benefits that will accrue to society. BEDCO will administer the CSI funds and resources that would be earmarked for enterprises by corporates, with whom the Corporation will enter into a partnership. BEDCO will craft programmes to which the CSI funds will be directed and the Corporation will be responsible for management of the funds and reporting on how they have been used. It will identify areas that warrant the attention in terms of development and then use the CSI funds to address shoddy areas. In other words, BEDCO will act as an agent between corporates and the entrepreneurs by distributing CSI resources from corporates towards enterprise development.

Qhotsiso (end-to-end incubation process)
BEDCO was established as an incubation centre with both commercial and industrial units where start-up businesses would be nurtured for a certain period of time and then graduate from BEDCO's premises.

The Corporation used to be a location in which entrepreneurs could receive pro-active, value-added support, access to critical tools, information, education, training, contacts, resources and access to finance that may otherwise be unaffordable, inaccessible or unknown.

As an incubator, BEDCO will help micro and small enterprises survive and grow during the start-up period when they are most vulnerable given all assistance by a management team at affordable package. Most incubation programmes take up to 3 years since participants cannot be allowed to be in the programme forever, which used to be BEDCO's practice when the Corporation started.

However, a monitoring action plan upon graduation is also highly recommended to keep track of the performance of the incubatee.

During the incubation period, BEDCO will provide services regardless of where clients are located (provides services in both types). It will ensure that a business idea is germinated, new business established, nurtured and given all the support it needs until it is well established and ready to face the outside world (graduate from the incubation centre).

The purpose of the end-to-end incubation process is to foster entrepreneurship culture ensuring sustainable businesses that can contribute to the economic growth through job creation.
The whole process must be followed to ensure graduation of participants in the incubation programme.
• Idea germination
• Business advisory services
• Technical training
• Business management training
• Business accommodation
• Identification of appropriate stakeholders for support
• Business coaching and mentoring
• Graduation of the business
• Follow – up.