Aspiring entrepreneurs from Maseru converged at Mojalefa Lephole Convention centre, to pitch business ideas to potential funders at The Hook Up Dinner (THUD), held last week Thursday.
Thabo Monyamane (32) together with his two colleagues, Rethabile Shale and Paballo Moqoko started a social enterprise named The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN) whose responsibility is to give a leg up to small and medium businesses (SME’s). The trio brought THUD concept to Lesotho from South Africa after realising that it was important for businesses to network and share ideas that could grow their enterprises.
Speaking with The Reporter, Monyamane said his team helped aspiring business people to pitch their business ideas to them and if it had prospects of being successful, they helped fund such ideas and also mentored entrepreneurs until they could stand on their own.
He said businesses had unique and different challenges, that could be resolved if people shared their own experiences with others. In 2018 he and his partners wanted to demonstrate and prove that venture capital can work in Lesotho through a M100 000 investment challenge.
‘‘’We invested M100 000 of our own money in exchange for equity in the business. Moreover, we provide all the necessary tools such as marketing, branding, legal advice and management. Also, we find ways to connect these entrepreneurs to customers and companies in Lesotho so that they can buy their services,’’ said Monyamane.
He said they created a platform through THUD so that people could pitch their ideas and eventually build businesses that could solve the challenges of unemployment facing the country.
Monyamane said THUD had three phases which are ‘pitch 180’ whereby an entrepreneur is given 180 seconds to pitch his business, ‘network mixer’ where entrepreneurs shared their ideas with others and ‘rain maker’ which allowed entrepreneurs an opportunity to share their struggles and get solutions.
‘’I have been an entrepreneur for more than ten years and it’s a challenge trying to grow a business in an economy that is gradually declining. I believe that if entrepreneurs share their problems with each other, then they can also assist each other in finding solutions. When I look at this country, we have so much resources such as a high number of educated people. This is why entrepreneurship is so significant for the development of this country,’’ he said.