MASERU – The advent of Information, Communication & Technology (ICTs) has dramatically changed the traditional communication landscape to an extent that everyday life is hugely dependent on ICTs. Business enterprise is not spared from these developments as success of businesses is hugely affected by advances in ICTs. ICTs play a catalytic role in enterprise development.
This is a fact that cannot be avoided as it is those enterprises that are ICT-compliant that succeed in business while those that are not face the wrath of the speed with which information flows and lag behind as a consequence.
The advances in ICTs have realised the decoupling of space and time as swift flows of information globally have reduced the number of hours that one takes to send messages across the world. Within a wink of an eye, information uploaded in the world-wide-web, the internet has reached millions of people (consumers in the business language). This has inadvertently rendered the physical boundaries between countries irrelevant and the cyberspace has become totally flooded.
The worldwide interconnectedness that has come with the use of internet and the resultant facebook, twitter and u-tube have added value to the global interactions and interconnectedness that are suitable for business. These, coupled with high mobility levels across the globe, made interactions even more pronounced as people no longer see the traditional physical boundaries as an impediment.
Communication in the cyberspace
Traditional forms of communication such as letters, telephone and facsimile transmission to mention just a few, have long been surpassed by the introduction of internet-related channels such as the emails, social media such as facebook, twitter, Whats-up and u-tube.
These trends of changes have meant that business could no longer be conducted using the traditional forms mentioned above. As societies move towards being paperless, the hard-copy material on newspapers and newsletter are gradually becoming irrelevant as the move is towards electronic versions. Therefore, measures taken include convergence of hard-copy with electronic to capture all kinds of audiences with various knowledge and information acquisition tastes.
It therefore follows logically to assert that advertising on the newspapers, newsletters and other paper-oriented channels is gradually losing face, hence necessitating adaptation to the ICT-oriented ways of doing business. By the time that a newspaper prepares to go to bed with a couple of adverts, the same advert that is run on the hard-copy newspaper is already flying in the electronic newspapers, which is not by the way, constrained by exorbitant costs involved in printing, distribution and also collection of sales as well as returns.
Electronic advertising, which is where the focus is now has taken a new dimension and has drastically changed the communication landscape, especially for business. However, challenges of internet literacy and affordability still remain at the hind-sight and may impede these technological advances.
Conversely, societies adapt quickly to these advances and make use of the latest ICTs. In the last ten years, it was phenomenal for a granny to hold a cellphone, let alone use it. But a decade later, what is critical is not having a cellphone, but how to enrol for facebook, Whats-up, twitter and u-tube.
The young Turks have rejuvenated the communication sphere and have acted as middle-people in the transformation of societies, including the ones with grannies and the apathetic members of societies. Ten-to-fifteen year-olds now teach their grandparents how to use cellphones and contribute to the value chain in the ICT development sector.
ICT-led Business in addressing the 'Youth Bulge"
A great chunk of every society's population is thrust in youth, which constitutes roughly more than or close to half of a country's population. With youth now vying for entry into business, but being thwarted in the main, by the challenge to identify grand business opportunities and having access to finance, simple-and-easy-to-use means of doing business have become more pronounced than ever before.
Youth form the productive sector of society and have a variety of needs and expectations. The so-called 'Youth bulge' can be defeated by exposing to more business opportunities by identifying niches that address youth problems. Therefore, to capture this sector of society demands that there must be adherence and adaptation to the latest forms of communication, which are ICT-based.
The Youth Bulge is defined as a large population of adolescents entering the labour market and betting strained at the seams of any country's economy and polity, which was designed for smaller populations. This has adverse implications for creating unemployment and alienation unless new opportunities are created quickly enough. A youth bulge is associated with high levels of unemployment and as a result, heightened risk of violence and political instability.
ICT-led business enterprise can act as an answer to the many challenges that can be brought about by the youth bulge as it has the potential to afford youth employment.
Youth must be moved away from seeking jobs in government that is to be employed as service providers working for somebody else, but must be moulded towards being entrepreneurs in their own right. This has the multiplier effect of creating a future economically-independent and self-reliant society.
It is challenging to start a business the traditional way, with demands for a physical office space, staff and also having to keep books of accounts for accountability to stakeholders and shareholders.
New methods, most appropriate for youth are having a laptop equipped with all software, gadgets such as a smartphone, blackberry and other ancillary such as external drives, USBs and a wide array of web-based pads and many others suffice to start a well-run office. This saves the costs of paying expensive rent, paying staff salaries and also paying other overhead expenses such as electricity and water.
Governments are no longer capable of absorbing young people in the civil service. Consequently, it follows that youth's mindset must be on embarking on business so that they are turned into creators of jobs, not job-seekers.
Governments move towards e-government
Most governments are part of the mantra of e-government (Lesotho went to Rwanda and saw how fast the country has advanced in the arena of ICTs and its entrenchment of e-government).
For Lesotho to keep up with this grand initiative of e-government, it must start first ensuring openness of its systems. The advent of face-book, witter, u-tube and others have ravaged the information, communication and technology space and have rendered non-compliant enterprises unsuccessful.
Triggered by these advances, the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) has seized the grand opportunity to use ICTs as catalysts for business success, hence the ICT-led business enterprise project.
The project is intended to play a catalytic role in the business sphere of business by encouraging micro, small and medium enterprises to adopt ICTs in their daily business operations.
Most businesses do not have websites, which could turn out important tools for showcasing the businesses' products and services. With the ICT-led business project, BEDCO intends to create a space for businesses to utilise its dynamic and user-friendly website as a platform for businesses to market their products to end-users.
The first step of the project will be to educate MSMEs on various technologies and the business opportunities that they can tap into when they are business-compliant.
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.
A cursory look at ‘flea markets’
Our micro, small and medium enterprises’ mission is to have their products sold to their customers. This in return will give them profits that they will use to run their business and to make ends meet in life. That is the essence of business – buying stock, selling it and making profit while at the same time replanting the seeds for continued harvest.
BEDCO has been involved in the provision of temporary markets for the MSMEs that it has worked with over the years, called flea markets. Flea markets are temporary because they grant entrepreneurs an opportunity for the day to showcase their products. They also network entrepreneurs with customers who would like to place orders for their products in the future.
BEDCO would like to improve the organisation of these flea markets to make it more fruitful. There will be three major flea markets organised in a year, shifting from the random district ones. There will be one flea market organised in one region, say the Northern Region comprising Leribe, Butha-Buthe, Mapoteng and Mokhotlong. It may be stationed in one of the three districts. Entrepreneurs from these districts or other districts outside the region will have a grand opportunity to display their wares in one area for a day or two where they will attract buyers from various places.
The Communications & Marketing Department will have advertised the flea market well in advance, two or three months before, so that the public is aware of it and prepares itself, budget-wise in other ways for the flea market. The entrepreneurs in the areas in question will have been conscientised well in advance so that they prepare their wares for display in these flea markets.
The next big flea market is expected to take place in Butha-Buthe on 30-31st August 2014. This will involved as mentioned, entrepreneurs from Leribe, Butha-Buthe, Mapoteng and Mokhotlong. Potential buyers will come from all over the country.
Critical analysis of new-coming organisations
The private sector has been broached by the Government of Lesotho as an engine room for economic growth. This is the case everywhere in the world. This is so because the Government has realised that it can no longer absorb graduates who complete tertiary education to work in the civil service. In Lesotho, the civil service is saturated as it takes almost 3-4 and to some five years before securing a job in the civil service. This places severe strains for families and the graduates themselves to undergo training and no returns are seen. It becomes a serious disincentive for others to go to school to the level of tertiary education. It also undermines the government’s efforts to invest in education if those educated with taxpayers money just end up in streets seeking jobs. Also, it does not add much value to the needed human development plans of the state.
Therefore, the government encourages growth of private sector so that when graduates complete their tertiary education, they do not expect to be absorbed by the civil service, but engage in business and create jobs for others. This means that the Government only remains the policy maker, not job creator. Ideally, those who work in the civil service perform primary responsibilities of delivering service to the people to facilitate their business development. People who are employed in the civil service must be those who make payments to businesses that provided service to the government, be it for construction of a road, a bridge, catering, and stationery or for any other service provided to the government. Others should be those who facilitate business by registering private companies, passport services and others. The rest must be self-employed either in partnerships, sole traders or in companies. The state must play the facilitation and regulatory role while a great chunk of work is done by the private sector.
In most countries, micro, small and medium enterprises are the backbone and engine room of economic growth. That man and woman or even youth seen in the streets, bearing the ghastly cold winters is the one who is jerking the economic growth of the country as he pays huge taxes that go into the coffers of the country. The men in suits and ties and women in smart clothes add little in terms of economic growth. Instead, the latter group are a burden and liability to the state as they consume from the coffers because their salaries are paid from the taxes that come from the man and woman in the street. That is the reason why civil servants should be fewer than those self-employed working in the private sector. The state as well must encourage people to be self-employed. However, the scenario has been the total opposite as politicians when they canvass their political manifestoes promise people jobs in the civil service. When they have been voted, they take some of the voters and dump them in the jobs that were supposed to have long been leased out to the private sector. Cadre deployment, which is done in pursuit of garnering voters is only short-term and distorts long-term economic growth as it creates dependency on the civil service as the sole employer.
Politicians have created dependency on the civil service for a long time and this has been evidenced by the list of graduates who await deployment into the civil service through applications submitted to the Public Service Commission (PSC). These are counted in thousands and only a small fraction is absorbed annually.
Efforts to embrace entrepreneurship as the way to go in growing the economy is gradually taking shape and a few politicians are talking the language of job creation that is driven by the private sector. The National Strategic Development Plan of Lesotho (NSDP) talks directly to this fact of job creation up to 10, 000 jobs per annum. The 2014/2015 budget speech delivered this year in parliament has emphasised this fact of private sector-driven job creation.
However, the practice on the ground is a different one. There seems to be more organisations that are established to deal with entrepreneurial development in Lesotho, while results of this are too little. But if one strong entrepreneurship corporation or company was assigned the role of developing entrepreneurs, Lesotho’s economy would grow tremendously. BEDCO is therefore well-placed to perform this role. In an ideal scenario, resources, financial, human and infrastructural would be channelled towards one area, BEDCO to drive the agenda of entrepreneurial development. The many mushrooming entrepreneurial organisations that seek funding from the government weaken the grand objective of having the private sector as the engine for economic growth as this strains the small cake among a number of organisation, some of which have little capacity to do so.
A glance at the reorganisation exercise at the Corporation
After picking bones from near collapse following a spate of shenanigans that had bedevilled BEDCO, the Corporation bit the lower lip and vowed not to drown, but to reincarnate from the ashes. The coming of Mr Robert Likhang as Chief Executive Officer by secondment from the Centre for Accounting Studies into the BEDCO’s fold a year ago has seen marshalling of a new rejuvenation plan, a plan that seeks to pull the Corporation from the doldrums to which it had been thrown. It is now close to two decades of the reorganisation exercise, the Corporation is breathing new life. A number of developments aptly attest to the new vision, mission and strategic direction that the Corporation has vowed to take to make a turnaround. This is not for any individual’s benefit, but it is for the good of entrepreneurial development in Lesotho, which is at the heart of the Government of Lesotho. It would be remiss of the Government of Lesotho not take noble steps towards development of enterprise in the country as it is the engine room of economic growth. This must not only be fashionably be uttered in political rhetoric, but must be shown in actions. For the past decade or so, the Government of Lesotho’s annual budget speeches delivered by various ministers of Finance have carried the catch phrase – ‘Private sector is the engine of economic growth. it is up time these words turned into action.
Likhang was able to bring to the fold, a rejuvenation and has been averse to calling it transformation or reincarnation as the two connote reinvention of the wheel, when it practical terms it is not, but building on what was already in the pipeline and just giving it shape. For example, introduction of Ichorise Mohoebi is not a completely new phenomenon at BEDCO, as it is enterprise development, which has existed for decades, but the project was injection of new energy to move the ship forward.
The rejuvenation has also been seen through rebranding of the organisation to give it flavour in the eyes of the onlookers, its stakeholders and all those with whom it constantly comes into contact. New banners, promotional material and many more bear testimony to the new visioning at BEDCO. As an addition to the rebranding exercise, a new Department of Communications and Marketing was created to specifically work on the internal and external image of BEDCO. By crafting comprehensive marketing and public relations programmes, the Department will ensure that the favourable image of the Corporation is created and sustained.
Internally, that it to say, at human resource level, changes also took place – a new organisational structure was crafted, with intent to breathe life into the performance of the Corporation. Introduction of new portfolios and reshuffling of staff to redeploy them to where they will make the needed impact has added value to the organisation. New performance management systems and the writing of new job descriptions has also been with intent to improve delivery.
Of critical importance is that there were no job loses or retrenchments as the case may be, but people were moved from point A to point B so that they unleash their potentials where they are most suited. Without saying, remuneration packages also changed dramatically to place directors, managers, senior officers, supervisors and the general staff at least at par with their colleagues in other like-minded organisations. Without delving on the theoretical perspectives that remuneration has proven that it is not the only motivator for good performance, but it does add value to people’s expected performance and delivery. Human resource management experts could argue that most retention strategies involve good remuneration packages that organisations must reconsider. After all, most people turn down their offers at interview level because the remuneration packages offered do not meet their expectations. It can be argued further, as it is the reason why most people leave their current jobs.
Another injector that has been brought to the fold as part of the rejuvenation exercise is that of the positive attitude to work, the work ethic in other words. It would be futile for Likhang to think of injecting changes by leaving the attitude change dimension. It is the cardinal point to all these mentioned changes. Even if salaries would be raised, rebranding done and reorganisation be effected with intent to improving BEDCO, if attitude to work (work ethic) still remained the same, it would not benefit the organisation. Therefore, the management of BEDCO, led by Likhang is working towards change of attitude and work ethic within themselves first, and then inject this spirit of being results-oriented to their subordinates. Change of attitude does not come overnight, but is a result of painstaking work of gradually making an impression that if approach to work was done in a different manner, it would yield more results for the organisation. There is therefore a lot to do with changing people’s attitudes and this sometimes has to do with deeply-entrenched traditions of doing things that are imbedded in the minds of people. New ways of moving them to change for the better requires a skill in people management. Humanistic approaches argue that dealing with the social fabric of the employees at work can work positively for a manager who desires to see attitude change. These involve staff welfare mechanisms at work that introduce new social ties and new thinking in the social life of employees. New traditions such as staff trips and outings, social networks such as social clubs, new staff uniform, new offices, regular staff meetings where employees are kept abreast with new developments in the organisation as well as introduction of staff awards for rewarding excellence in work performance as well as in discipline add value to people seeing change and adapting to it. BEDCO is in the way to introduce these for it to see the expected change in the manner its employees approach work.
The last major change that BEDCO under the stewardship of Likhang has introduced is that of changes in the programmatic content of the Corporation. Without reinventing the wheel as earlier mentioned, changes in the shape of programmes has been effected to inject better performance. Such changes to mention a few are the introduction of the Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation Programme with a manager and officers has injected change in the manner officers, especially managers see things. This does not imply that there was no planning, monitoring and evaluation done at BEDCO before, but introduction of a new portfolio in that regard creates a good impression that PME is being taken seriously and with more focused attention to it and its detail.
As the rejuvenation takes shape, the organisation works towards seeing more results coming its way. This will be ensured by comprehensive organisational, programmatic and individual performance appraisals that intend to assess how the organisation and those charged with responsibilities fare in their areas of operation. The results of performance of the organisation will be put together and communicated to the stakeholders during a Stakeholders’ Forum that will from this year, be held annually. This is a platform that is envisaged to grant all stakeholders of the Corporation a grand opportunity to meet with the organisation and get a glimpse of how it executes the mandate conferred on it.
BEDCO will hold its first-ever Stakeholders' Forum on 01 August 2014. The Forum is expected to be a watershed event that will grant the Corporation's stakeholders a golden opportunity to under and appreciate the Corporation (identity) and its programmatic work that it is doing. The Forum, will culminate in the presentation of an Annual Report, which will highlight the major events, activities, functions and achievement of the Corporation in the last year (2013/2014). It will also highlight the milestones and challenges that the Corporation registered in the previous year.
BEDCO holds this event against the backdrop of growing, but staggering business enterprise in Lesotho. As a result, the event is expected to serve as a grand platform for all those that come into contact with BEDCO and share a common ground regarding the mission and vision of the organisation, above all in achievement of the organisation's mandate to confer on the organizational programmatic content and what the Corporation is doing. The envisaged Forum has to be a watershed activity that is intended to break the ice and bring all stakeholders together for mutual and long-term benefit that has to trickle down to those on the receiving end of the Corporation's services.
Like any other organisation, BEDCO has to some extent been operating in isolation from its stakeholders – entrepreneurs at the micro, small and medium scales, the government, private sector in general, board, management and the staff. These varied publics, both internal and external have a direct influence on how the organisation operates and also make demands from the organisation. The changes, both in structure and operation of the organisation (organisational programme content) have to be cascaded down to all these publics in order to create a symmetrical relationship.
The challenges confronting parastatals like BEDCO are three-fold – namely, gaining the stakeholders' support in the consolidation of the change process, which is intended to yield positive results in the short and long-term, promoting internal efficiency and guiding external accountability with intent to creating long-term value for change and also managing its varied stakeholder base.
First, BEDCO is currently consolidating its recovery from near demise, which was exacerbated mainly by lack of vision, weak internal operations, creating and sustaining a reputation among its peers and funding sources that have been threatened. The organisation has therefore been pressured to find ways to restore its image and refurbish its brand. This demands not only practical experience in change leadership but also the requisite integrity to generate a more spruced up reputation in the organisation's environment.
Secondly, the current political, economic and social environments within which the Corporation operates - change of government, change of leadership – ministers and principal secretaries, resignation of key staff members and the coming of new ones as well as the new shape that the organisation envisions to take and the repositioning its wants to engage in both internally and externally, demand tighter performance leadership protocols and an organisational culture that fits well in the new dispensation. As BEDCO's senior management implement stricter performance management systems internally, so must be the junior levels of the organisation's need to respond by entrenching the requisite performance linkages at the lower levels. This also goes to the board (a mix of competent individuals with relevant expertise) which need not only hold the organisation accountable, but also to add value by supporting its growth and development path.
Thirdly, BEDCO's stakeholders, that encompasses its staff, management, board, entrepreneurs (MSMEs), government and other public bodies such as Lesotho National development Corporation (LNDC) must also support the change process that BEDCO envisages, otherwise it will all, but a naught. The support cannot just come by, but it is triggered in the main, by efforts made by BEDCO to ensure that all its publics are at par and at the same wavelength with the pace with which this change process is planned to take. If it is fast, stakeholders must not go at a snail's pace because they will render it a failure. If it is moderate in speed, the stakeholders must not go too fast because they will then demand too much from the Corporation, which it might fail to meet and if it is slow, they must also not be too ahead of it. The pace of the change process must correspond with the demands of the stakeholders and how they view it is very important. How they view the change, positively or negatively such as that it is intended to render them redundant and lead to job losses or that the organisation is heading towards a demise.
Therefore, the envisaged Forum is intended to be a platform for all those with whom BEDCO comes into contact – staff members, management, board, ministry of Trade and Industry, Cooperatives & Marketing, Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), government of Lesotho, entrepreneurs (MSMEs), oversight bodies on trade-related issues (Lesotho Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Private Sector Foundation, Private Sector Competitiveness etc. This platform will serve as an important junction-point where these stakeholders, for the first time, confer on trade related issues and get a glimpse of what BEDCO does and does not do.
Creation of this understanding should in the long-term, have a positive multiplier effect on how the organisation is perceived by its stakeholders. This will in turn, create a mutual cooperation as well as mutual support for the Corporation's envisaged future outlook, especially at this critical but delicate time when the organisation is going through a reincarnation of its own. BEDCO is going through a change process, which started a year ago, but which has not been finely communicated or cascaded down to its publics. Therefore, this Forum must serve in one way or the other, as a platform for BEDCO to unveil its intentions regarding its envisaged reincarnation process.
The Forum will draw on the stakeholders' experiences and wealth of expertise to shape the nature and scope of the rejuvenation that the organisation intends to take. It must serve as a grand opportunity for all stakeholders to take advantage of their coming together to know each other and better understand the Corporation's renewed vision and mission, without deviating from its primary mandate.
The Forum is expected to achieve the following objectives:
- Identify with BEDCO as their Corporation of first choice,
- Interpret BEDCO's renewed vision and mission,
- Support BEDCO's change process,
- Act as ambassadors of the Corporation wherever they are,
- Demand their due space within BEDCO
- See and view BEDCO in a positive light (reputation-building)
The event will be characterized by presentation of official speeches made around a common theme of the Forum. There will also be wide-ranging discussions on national topics aligned to the work of the Corporation. The themes must be succinctly selected in order to elicit the required response from the stakeholders. Finally, there will be a dinner at the end of the seminar. The Forum is intended to take the format of a come-together where all stakeholders participate in the events of the day. As indicated earlier, the following activities will shape the character and form that the forum will take. There will also be plenary sessions for discussions and deliberations on national business and trade-related issues, which will trigger exchanges of views on a number of issues that BEDCO works with.
The event will be preceded by exhibitions of entrepreneurs products and services, which will take place a week or two earlier.
At the end of the event, a comprehensive report on the function will be produced and will be published. In addition, an Occasional paper covering the presentations made by various experts at the function.