Entrepreneur has no kind words for youths

’MASENTLE MAKARA

MASERU – As suggested by finance minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro in his budget speech earlier this year, the majority of Lesotho’s population comprises youths who are vulnerable because of the high unemployment rate, which is harmful to the country’s economic growth. Tabling the 2018 /2019 fiscal year budget Majoro said the Lesotho faces “poverty, hunger and joblessness are high and even higher amongst the youth . . .”

Despite pervasive unemployment, fewer youths have started businesses and the majority are idling with certificates filed in torn and tattered envelopes looking for jobs with much hope. Youthful entrepreneurs like Makhetha Thaele (38) who take it upon themselves to nurture entrepreneurship among Basotho youths are few and far between.

Thaele owns several business enterprises such as a filling station, a money lending company and others under the company MF holdings. Thaele mentors Basotho youth to start and grow businesses through a programme aired on PCFM weekly where he characteristically opens and closes the Thahameso-Programme with both a prayer and an unfailing reference to youth empowerment. Public Eye spoke to him this week and asked him to explain what drives his passion for youth empowerment.

“I was an unemployed youth with little hope so I know the pain. I know what Basotho youth feel because it was not long ago when I was in the same position in this country,” said Thaele in an interview with Public Eye. He said it was challenging growing up in a family where they lived from hand to mouth; where the parent had to work just to pay school fees and put bread on the table. At such a young age of his early 20s he said it is very difficult having to face the responsibilities of helping his struggling parents while also trying to get ahead with his own life.

“It is not long ago when I experienced the same challenges that Basotho youth are facing. Therefore since I still have that wound which is yet to be healed I will forever sing the same song because I empathise with the youth,” he said. He, however, expressed disappointment over the calibre of thinking among Basotho youth most of whom he said do not have a vision and are politically contaminated without understanding what politics is about.

“Sadly, Basotho youth have inherited this curse of our current politics where people are content with being dependent and assuming for one cannot make it in life without political connections, which is nonsense,” he charged. “I still consider myself a youth since I haven’t yet reached 40. Now as I am 38 heading towards 39 but I am worried as my country is driving me insane because it has potential but its youth think they have to wait until they reach old age to see any potential in themselves,” he added. In addition, he said, he has realised youth are not trained to dream so his role is to change that mindset among Basotho youth to urge them to start dreaming.

In all they do, he encourages youth to see business, value and opportunities. “They should dream while playing morabaraba and see value in it, and see value in athletics but very few of them understand what I mean. “Fewer understand when I say bring your M100 and in 6 months’ time you will be having M160. The problem starts at home, at school, politics and government issues,” he said. He took a swipe at the education system from primary to tertiary school “in the sense that Basotho youth are going to school just for them to speak English.”

“That is why you see the so-called middle class and high income earners sending their children to English medium schools and parents are content when their children speak good English which is where their problem originates because emphasis is placed in the wrong place,” Thaele quipped. He said that mentality should be eradicated by generating productive educational programmes which encourage youth to engage in business.

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