Launch of Bacha Entrepreneurship Project (BEP)
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The Bacha Entrepreneurship Project (BEP) kickstarted in high gear in 2019, with a launch on 14 June 2019. BEP is a tripartite initiative of BEDCO, Standard Lesotho Bank and Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA). It is intended to assist unemployed you who have completed their high school and tertiary education with start-up capital. It is also intended to help youth who already have businesses, but who want to expand them.

The BEP 2019 is the second in the second phase of BEP, which started in 2018 by the three agencies. BEP started in 2014 with Phase I ending in 2017 and Phase II beginning in 2018 with some improvements, such as increase in the fund that is shared by MSMEs. It increased from the original M500, 000 to M700, 000. Also, the number of final beneficiaries who share the money increased from three (3) to four (4). Furthermore, the number of applicants that goes to the first stage of the project has increased from 25 to 40.

Phase II of the BEP received more than 200 business proposals countrywide and shortlisted down to 40 proposals. Twenty (20) of these were youth proposals from Central region, 10 Northern region and 10 Southern regions. During the implementation phase of the project, the top 40 candidates were given intensive training and mentorship on skills such as tax compliance, finance and entrepreneurship. This served to transform youth’s ideas into fully operational businesses by equipping them with essential elements to start a business apart from monetary capital.

BEP has so far benefited 9 MSMEs who have created 16 jobs since its inception in 2014. The main thrust of the project was to curb poverty, which is rampant in Lesotho. The country is plagued by high unemployment rates, particularly amongst the youth, entrepreneurship has since become a key factor in boosting Lesotho’s economy.

Having initially being targeting graduates with completed first degree qualifications or higher, the criteria was last year adjusted to cater for holders of high school certificate. Over the last few years youth has moved to take its rightful position in academic and policy discourse. A significant shift is recognisable from a focus on youth as a period of turbulence in the human life cycle, to a focus on adolescents and young adults, not only as bridge with future generations, but also as powerful agents of change in their respective societies.

Lesotho’s population is relatively youthful with 39.8 per cent of the population between the years of 15 and 35. This presents a huge opportunity for the country to leverage the potential and energy of the youth to realise it development objectives.

Through this work it is indeed our hope that appropriate strategies will enable youth to be empowered and responsible citizens who will engage in the realisation of the National Vision 2020. Youth in this survey refers to residents of Lesotho aged 15 to 35 as stipulated by the National Youth Policy and the African Youth Charter.

Youth in Lesotho are faced with a plethora of challenges.

Among the key challenges they face are:

Lack of voice and low levels of political participation, which are closely linked to social exclusion;

Unemployment among Lesotho’s youth is often in the range of 30.0 per cent and above the national rate of 25.3 per cent; and

The HIV and AIDS epidemic has become a key health and development challenge affecting the youth. 

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