Partnerships boost access to finance

The three beneficiaries; Bokang Petje, ‘Makarabo Mpokathe and Mahlohonolo Ramothamo

By Neo Kolane

Strategic partnerships between the public, private and banking sectors are looking to boost entrepreneurs’ prospects of accessing to finance, and the Smart Youth Fund (SYF) Project plays a key role in this regard.

The SYF is one of several business plan competition initiatives under the Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation’s (BEDCO) youth development programme that seeks to redress unemployment among the youth and breed a crop of entrepreneurs who can inspire change and prosperity by becoming job creators as opposed to job seekers.

The initiative was launched in April 2022 in collaboration with Sekhametsi Investment Consortium and Lesotho Post Bank. It is aimed at breeding a new crop of entrepreneurs who can inspire change in the country by creating jobs and not employment seekers.


The project will provide funding to youth-owned businesses that indicate high potential to benefit other young people. It will also facilitate access to finance and provide business skills support to high potential agri-based small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), focusing on producers and aggregators of enterprises that have a direct impact on job creation and the local economy,”

Speaking at an SYF Project awarding ceremony in Maseru this week, the acting chief executive officer of (BEDCO) Tshepang Tlali acknowledged Sekhametsi Investment Consortium’s support to the project which saw it injecting M300,000 required to bring the revolving fund to life.

Tlali also hailed Lesotho Post Bank for being an integral part of the project team and the work involving the management fund.

The three winners who will move to the next stage – the incubation programme which is designed to help them make the most of the funds they have received. Tlali said it is a guarantee that their businesses will receive the support they require to develop accordingly and expressed hope that they take advantage of the programme.

“I wish to encourage you all to remain committed to your obligations that will be agreed upon between with the bank as it will play a crucial role in ensuring that this project will not only remain a pilot but impact more businesses in the years to come.

“Our mandate as BEDCO is to promote the establishment and growth of Basotho-owned enterprises and it is through initiatives such as the smart youth fund that we believe that this can be achieved.

“It is important to note that the project did not only target youth between the ages of 18 and 35, but also businesses in general that demonstrate interest in supporting young Basotho in terms of job creation or business support to youth-owned agri-businesses,” he said.

The deputy principal secretary of the ministry of trade and industry, business development and tourism ‘Mabasia Leboela thanked BEDCO for championing the development of the private sector through numerous programmes that have been successfully implemented over the past few years, especially for the youth in this country.

Leboela also mentioned that the opportunity contributed to the Lesotho economic growth through its partnership with various stakeholders within the micro, small and medium enterprises ecosystem.

Leboela told the beneficiaries:

“It might just be a business, a source of income, but to the nation, it is job creation, poverty eradication, promotion of competition and innovation as well as contribution to the economic growth.

“We encourage you to be a good stewards of what has been entrusted to you and utilize the support that is being offered to you,” she said.

In an interview with theReporter, one of the beneficiaries ‘Makarabo Mphokathe of Ha- Tshepo in the Mohale’s Hoek district, said she learnt about this programme through the media and a friend assisted her to join it.

As a winner of M100,000, Mphokathe said the money will assist in sustaining her business as it meets different challenges financially.

“My business, Qalakheng Evergreen Farms, started in 2013. It needs a bigger financial injection continue and there are few things we need to buy soon, which we could not afford.

“This money will help us collect enough water because we water a lot of plants and vegetables; we will also be buying big tanks for water storage,” she said.

Qalakheng Evergreen Farms is a business that sells quality stalls in a variety of sizes, does greenhouse and shade net construction, provides guidance and tutorials to farmers, sells shade net, frost cover, tank stand and stands, drips and cabbages in large quantities.