The 16th of November marked the second collaborative event between Standard Lesotho Bank and Lionesses of Africa this year. Celebrating its fourth anniversary on the day, CEO of Lionesses of Africa, Ms Melanie Hawken, shared with the prestigious event’s guests the journey the organization has traveled. She emphasized the critical role Lionesses of Africa plays in providing a network for women entrepreneurs which is to “share, inspire and connect”. She further emphasized the essential act of thinking bigger while starting small as a means of encouraging business women that attended the event.
The very sentiment of thinking bigger whilst starting small was shared by many of the business women who displayed their products at the event. Ms Maphoka Ramohanoe of Mercies Jewellery shared, whilst still studying, the encouragement of her husband and lecturers who brought to light the potential gold mine that is the jewelry pieces she made for herself. Having started the business in the living room of her house whilst juggling the task of caring for a newborn, she has since come a long way. Although Ms Ramohanoe still faces challenges such as shipping costs and acquisition of materials locally, she has since won a Finite award and makes pieces for the princess amongst many other achievements.
In a country that is plagued by high unemployment rates (27.25 percent in 2017), a rise in entrepreneurship has since taken Lesotho by storm. What one may deem as noteworthy is the collaboration that seems to be a key feature of the growing network of entrepreneurs. CEO of Prestige Furniture, Ms Alicia Motsoane, cited the very importance of working together by sharing the saying “there is no candle that loses its light whilst lighting another”.
The keen interest and contribution Standard Lesotho Bank has made in passing on the light to local businesses in Lesotho was illustrated by a presentation by Head of Personal and Business Banking, Ms Selloane Malie. Products such as the Letsema account, the Molleloa account and the Express Loan have been specifically designed to afford support to the many businesses that Basotho have created. And so, to encourage the many up and coming women entrepreneurs in Lesotho, “think bigger whilst starting out small”!
Lioness of Africa forms part of the five initiatives of the Entrepreneurship Development Project of the bank. It is a women’s initiative through which the bank seeks to support and inspire women who have embarked on the entrepreneurship journey. Lioness connects aspiring women in business with their counterparts in Lesotho and in other 2o countries where Standard Bank Group operates. In 2018, the bank set aside M1.9 million to support entrepreneurship in Lesotho with the aim of easing the burden on government to create jobs by giving Basotho an opportunity and encouragement to create jobs through entrepreneurship.