SLB unlocks prospects through youth project

FamCast News
2 months ago


By Mosa Matela

Bacha Entrepreneurship Project, a seed capital initiative, and joint venture between Standard Lesotho Bank, Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL) and BEDCO, held pitching sessions from January 9 – 10 for the last round of 25 finalists.

Launched in 2014, the project was set up to help talented local youth entrepreneurs set up businesses through funding and mentoring, while also ultimately curbing unemployment. The eleven-stage campaign, calls on aspiring entrepreneurs to submit their business plans, attend intensive entrepreneurial and training workshops, and finally, pitch their business ideas before a panel of adjudicators tasked with scoring the overall feasibility and practicality of the enterprises, should they win the funding.

To conclude the 2022 applications, the combined seed capital stands at M2 million up for grabs. The Project invites ambitious youth entrepreneurs across the nation between the ages of 21 and 35, who have completed either COSC, LGCSE and above, or who have been in business for at least two years to submit their business proposals with preference given to enterprises in tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, technology, and renewable energy as these are national priorities. Emerging finalists will not only have access to the lump sum amounts for funding but will be partnered with veteran entrepreneurs who will mentor them for a period of three years.

“Winning this competition would go a long way in expanding the business as initially planned beforeCOVID-19. By winning the competition I would be able to buy necessary material and employ enough people to grow the business,” declared one of the finalists Selebalo Maama.

Maama is the founder and director of S&M Solutions (PTY) LTD, a chalk manufacturing company established in June 2016, but had been forced to close when the Covid-19 crisis severely hit small businesses.

“Funding alone, however, cannot guarantee a sustainable business. Entrepreneurs must appreciate the importance of having a solid business plan, technical knowledge, a base of skills gained through coaching or experience, as well as mentorship from expert entrepreneurs,” said Paseka Ramokoatsi, one of the adjudicators of the project with over a decade of experience facilitating entrepreneurship training and business development consultancy for MSMEs throughout the SADC countries.

Bacha Entrepreneurship project is a collaborative effort by BEDCO, RSL and Standard Lesotho Bank, that seeks to redress unemployment amongst the youth. It intends to breed a crop of entrepreneurs who can inspire change and prosperity by becoming the creators of jobs and not job seekers. This project sets the stage for the youth to shape and determine the economic agenda of their country, especially at a time when unemployment for the youth population in Africa is increasing at a rate higher than in other parts of the world.

“As a leading financial services, provider, Standard Lesotho Bank is passionate about the sustainability and the growth of the communities it serves. This project bears testimony to our unyielding resolve to show up for Basotho as their partner for growth. Over the last few years, we have demonstrated that we are a bank that supports businesses hence our enduring commitment to this project and many others that we have supported to make entrepreneurship viable for Basotho,” said the Standard Lesotho Bank’s Marketing Manager responsible for sponsorships and CSI   Manyathela Kheleli.

Bacha Entrepreneurship Project has been beneficial towards the establishment of some widely known local business enterprises such as Falimehang Supermarket, Spetzo’s Pizza, and Linford Vodka to name a few.

Other past and present entrepreneurial development initiatives also forming part of the Bank’s corporate social responsibility (CSI) avenues include, Lioness of Africa, The Entrepreneurship Network (TEN), Local Supplier Development Programme (LSDP) and the Enterprise Hub.

“To date, our investment towards Basotho entrepreneurs is well over M10 million in the last five years,” Kheleli added.

The last round and final awarding ceremony for successful entrepreneurs will take place on Friday next week.

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