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By Matṧeliso Phulane
Rethabile Lesenyeho is a gifted crafts entrepreneur who aims to merge crafts entrepreneurship with academic accomplishment.
In an interview with theReporter this week, Lesenyeho said he began his artwork business in 2014. He mainly uses locally available, renewable resources to craft modern grass baskets with different sizes, varieties and designs for different purposes.
Apart from that, he designs lampshades, traditional hats and other products with grass.
“Our business uses locally available renewable resources as our main raw materials in producing household artefacts and leisure destination services like reed ceilings, interior design and decor.
“We apply the ancient basketry skills to produce ancient and modern basket products. The locally available renewable resources that we use as raw materials are local grass, reed, willow and corn husk among others.
Lesenyeho emphasised that his team get various grasses from retailers and harvesters based in Maseru and Likalaneng respectively.
Reed and willow are obtained from different sources as there is no established business in their harvesting and retailing.
“We do the harvesting ourselves by collecting corn husk from maize retailers in the streets especially at Ha Matala (in Maseru) during Autumn season when corn is readily available,” he affirmed.
He explained that his target market are: households, leisure destinations and tourist attraction sites both locally and internationally.
Besides, that he supplies his products to the packaging businesses, fruits and bread businesses.
He is working directly and indirectly with different people, businesses, academic institutions and various organizations.
“We have since established business relationships with different entities, and so far there are two people I am working with while the other two are trainees at our workshop,” he said
The bsuiness, according to him was started as just a hobby and later on turned as commercial entity as he learned weaving at an early age and developed passion for it.
“As Maya Angelou’s words says, creativity never gets used up, the more you do it the more you learn,” he quoted.
“My grandmother taught me how to weave, I also learned weaving from other different weavers along the way. I saw people fascinated at my products and they gave me motivation,” he expressed.
Speaking of challenges, Lesenyeho said there is higher demand than the quantity of production.
The market is there but lack of skills capacity to cater for the current demand is the main challenge they face in the basketry sector, he remarked.
He said the reason behind that is because the industry is left for uneducated, old and poor women who are struggling to make the ends meet.
However, he is currently training people at the workshop and has since engaged with three local institutions to incorporate weaving courses within their curricula.
“Of the three, two have already started piloting the project of weaving courses incorporation at their institutions.
“We are on the third year in the project with the first one, while with the second one we are on the second year of the pilot phase. I feel like formal training will help curb the need for production.
Lesenyeho, is aged 32, he originates from Monyakoana in Maama in Maseru district. He is currently studying Masters in Science in Sustainable Energy and Certificate in Carpentry.
His products price range from M50 to M800. Other products range from M200 to M5000. As for reed installation like ceiling and interior design prices differ.
He urged that it is important for people to work in silence and let their success make the loud noise. His dream is to build an art school in five years to come that will benefit Basotho.
For more details Lesenyeho is available on both call and Whatsapp on +266-51907351 and on email at: email@example.com. He is also available on Facebook page as Rethabile Lesenyeho and Arundo Industries Facebook page.