The Bacha Entrepreneurship Project, a joint collaboration between Standard Lesotho Bank, Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) and Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) intended to arrest poverty that is exacerbated by rising youth unemployment; particularly educated youth reached its peak when three graduates were announced as the first beneficiaries of the first phase of the project that was launched in December 2014 to the tune of M500 000.00.
The three winning businesses announced at the ceremony graced by the Minister of Small Businesses, Corporative and Marketing, Hon. Thabiso Lits’iba were Kemet Designs and Creatives represented by Mr. Teboho Moekoa, Shopa Lesotho represented by Mr. Lebohang Handy, and Agro Organic represented by Ms. Lerato Lesoetsa. The three youth companies shared a total of M500,000.00 as seed capital to start or expand their businesses.
Kemet Designs and Creatives, which received M 197 698. 73 is a manufacturer of unique casual as well as executive bags for male and females using African trends designs. Another company, Shopa Lesotho was awarded M 159, 725. 40 establish an e-commerce and advertising agency for Basotho businesses to showcase their products and services in Lesotho and abroad. Agro Organic received M 165, 575. 00 earmarked for the production of organic agricultural products to serve local retail demand with possibilities to expand to other markets.
The three proposals were ahead of 138 other submissions, where a shortlist of 20 youths was selected by a panel of adjudicators to attend training on entrepreneurship. Shortlisted candidates were given another chance to fine-tune and resubmit their proposals for final selection. The top five selected candidates were called for interviews in which the adjudication panel then selected three (3) winning proposals which were announced at the event.
During the implementation phase of the project, candidates will be constantly mentored and provided with entrepreneurial, financial and tax compliance guidance and support in order to transform their ideas into fully-fledged businesses that are fully operational and integrated into the mainstream economy, thereby creating jobs and boosting the economy of the country.
According to the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL), of the estimated 7,500 graduates who enter the job market every year, over half are unemployed. Bacha Entrepreneurship Project specifically targets young graduates aged 21 to 35. These graduates must have completed their first degree qualification or above and have never had any opportunity of any type of formal employment after attaining their qualifications. Phase 2 of the project will be announced in December 2015 for projects that will be implemented in 2016.
Established and successful local business people had also graced the event with the aim to inspire the youth.