Sat. Jul 20th, 2019

SLB walks the empowerment talk

. . . trains small businesses for three months

 

NEO SENOKO

MASERU – A vibrant industrial sector that includes growing small and medium-sized enterprises is a boon to any economy.

Apparently Standard Lesotho Bank has come to terms with the idea as the company held the first-ever training course for a total of 60 Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the country. These are some of the companies that are banking with Standard Lesotho Bank.

On Tuesday, the company awarded certificates to all the 60 participants who undertook a three months training course on how to improve and manage their businesses.

The training was meant to equip the business participants with skills in areas of operational management systems, governance systems, and keeping proper business records, especially financial records.

Participants were also trained on preparing financial reports, as well as understanding and interpreting financial reports.

The three months training, which was led by renowned chartered accountant Sam Mphaka in partnership with the PKF team, also equipped participants with skills on preparing tax returns and planning tax affairs for businesses including financial management and on different business growth strategies, especially the strategies as enhanced by the technology.

Among others, they were amongst exposed to different electronic platforms offered by the bank.

Mphaka on Tuesday commended Standard Lesotho Bank, describing the initiative as something uncommon for many people.

“We would like to commend the bank on this considerate gesture. It is indeed something uncommon to most of us. All we used to know was that the banks are only interested in profit making without extending any hand. Standard Lesotho Bank has proved us wrong and we do believe that others will copy this good example,” Mphaka said during his presentation on Tuesday.

He went further to reveal that there was also a mentorship programme for six business participants from among the 60 who attended the training. The mentorship involved visiting the trainees onsite and practically helping them to implement what was covered in the classroom.

He took a moment to encourage all participants to use the opportunity for their own advantage.

“To you business colleagues, it would be very gratifying to observe the difference between yourselves and those who had never had the opportunity. If there would be no difference between yourselves and those who never had the opportunity, it would be sad indeed.

“The remaining challenge for you is to work hard and implement what you have gained from the training,” Mphaka added.

From the training, he said they have learned that most businessmen know only the technical parts of their businesses and not that much of the business management techniques and business growth techniques that were covered by the training.

“It was after the training that they got to appreciate why the banks would normally put fourth certain requirements when approached for financial assistance. They learned how to make themselves ready to respond to those requirements when they are requested in terms of needs.

“It is our hope that those who have undergone the training will no longer fail the pass mark of the financial institutions in times of need for financial assistance,” the mentor added.

SMMEs contribute to the country’s economy in many ways including providing jobs for unskilled labourers and improving prospects for efficiency and technological development.

The sector has the potential to offer both immediate and long-term benefits. SMMEs are also cherished because of their resilience to economic setbacks, their flexibility, innovative capability and above all their labour intensive character.

According to the FinScope survey of 2016, there were around 118 130 people working in the sector with an estimated turnover of M192 million a month. The number includes 54, 939 employed and 63,191 individual entrepreneurs.

Standard Lesotho Bank Chief Executive Officer Mpho Vumbukani noted during the ceremony that the training intervention demonstrates that the bank is truly a partner for Basotho towards the growth of businesses which then translate to the overall growth of the national economy.

He said the bank is indeed pushing boundaries to remain relevant for Basotho, hence the initiative.

“This programme bears our testimony as a bank that we are very committed to Basotho businesses and the growth of the country’s economy as whole. We strongly believe that with this worthwhile project, it is only a matter of time before our shareholders and the nation start to reap the rewards of this investment,” Vumbukani said.

He further urged all the participants to now take note of the importance of building and running professional and sound business.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Standard Lesotho Bank head of personal and business banking Selloane Tsike.

Tsike reiterated that the trained entrepreneurs will make a massive contribution towards the economy and paid tribute to the initiative which she described as one of the most effective of delivering sustainable economic growth in the country.

“One can never be too educated for business; hence we came with this programme which will help these entrepreneurs to run their businesses more effectively. I would like to urge you not to worry more about success but work hard to be significant then success will naturally follow you,” Tsike said.

On behalf of the participants, Matiisetso Libetso described the training as an eye-opener, particularly in areas of business management and the use of technology to grow their businesses. She also highlighted that financial planning and proper book keeping were another most important part of their training.

“It has been three months of hard work and we promise to utilise all that we have learned here for the growth of our businesses,” Libetso noted.

The bank is also set to benefit through these initiatives as the growth of these companies means more and more business with the bank.

Apart from the skills development programme, Standard Lesotho Bank also has a Lioness programme where the bank specifically focuses on building the network among women entrepreneurs. The bank also has another programme on the procurement side where they are trying to help entrepreneurs in terms of what the best practices that side are.

 

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