Bacha project chips away jobless rate



MASERU – Since the introduction of the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project in 2014, to this day a good number of business start-ups are still operational while three have since collapsed.

Reasons for collapse range from misunderstanding between partners along the way, as well as entrepreneurs failing to adhere to proper guidelines of doing business.

One such business failed because the environment was not conducive enough for the type of business in the country, according to BEDCO Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Makatleho Matabooe in a speech during the launch of the 2019 edition of the annual project on Tuesday this week.

Bacha Entrepreneurship Project is a collaborative effort by BEDCO, Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) and Standard Lesotho Bank in an effort to redress the high level of unemployment in Lesotho which ranges between 24 and 28 percent, according to the World Bank statistics.

The project sets the stage for the youth to shape and determine the economic agenda for the country.

Through this project, interested young people between the ages of 21 and 35 are required to submit sustainable and innovative business ideas for assessment by the three institutions. Following the assessment, a total of 30 best proposals are then considered for further engagement.

During the implementation phase of the project, candidates are constantly mentored and provided with entrepreneurial, financial and tax compliance guidance in order to transform their ideas into fully-fledged businesses that are fully operational and integrated into the mainstream economy.

Only four business ideas will be eligible for funding of M700, 000 each to kick-start operations, while the rest of the other members only benefit through the training offered by the three institutions.

To date, over 550 applications have been received, 115 youth trained and 14 winners have been awarded M2.2 million prize money, according to statistics from the 2019/20 budget speech.

However, despite these collaborative efforts, some young entrepreneurs still fail to make the desired impact and therefore collapse in the process.

According to Dr Matabooe, while some members manage to live up to expectations, a few others struggle to align themselves with the proper guidelines of doing business as learned from the extensive trainings offered before going into business.

“It is not easy to run a business despite the training, so in this case we have noticed challenges in administrative issues where members end up having disagreements on the way forward with regard to the business they are pursuing.

“In some instance, however, the problems were much bigger where we discovered that the environment was not conducive enough in the country for that particular type of business and therefore could not continue with the idea,” Matabooe said on Tuesday.

On behalf of the Lesotho Revenue Authority, Manneheng Mopeli confirmed that despite a few challenges the initiative has been doing well since 2014 and serving the purpose of fighting unemployment in the country.

Of the existing companies, 16 people have been employed and the number is likely to increase with the growth of such companies.

“With this initiative we are trying to meet the government half-way when it comes to unemployment issues and so far things have been going smoothly. This year again I would like to urge youth in Lesotho to once again take the opportunity and use it for the betterment of their lives,” Mopeli said.

She went on to mention that government has promised to assist in making sure that the project continues towards reaching new heights.

In his budget speech presentation earlier this year, minister of finance Dr Moeketsi Majoro expressed satisfaction over the initiative, calling it a perfect contributor towards fighting unemployment.

“The government highly appreciates initiatives such as this one and invites the private sector to join hands in continuing to fight against increasing youth unemployment,” Majoro shared during his budget speech presentation this year.

Following the launch, the three institutions will then go around the 10 districts of Lesotho to create awareness among the youth while demonstrating the importance of taking part in the project.

Expectations are that in December this year the institutions would have announced the four winners of the competition and their companies will be up and running.


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