10 enterprises awarded more than M130k seed funding



MASERU – Limkokwing University, through the Limkokwing Entrepreneurship Acceleration Platform (LEAP) successfully incubated 10 tech-driven enterprises in various sectors such as ICT, Graphic Design, Tourism, Media, Fashion, and Agriculture. The university is among the five Enterprise Support Organizations (ESOs) trained by the Government of Lesotho’s Competitiveness and Financial Inclusion (CAFI) Project.

As part of the Lesotho Entrepreneurship Hub & Seed Financing Facility, LEAP recently distributed cheques for M130k to the 10 enterprises, funded by CAFI through the World Bank, to support and enhance their growth prospects. The CAFI Enterprise Support Organization (ESO) and The Entrepreneurs Network, operating under the Lesotho Entrepreneurship Hub & Seed Financing Facility, on Wednesday awarded a 10 enterprises with US$7 000, amounting to M134,675.80 each, as seed funding.

This signifies a significant achievement in the six-month incubation programme, as this group is now able to apply the knowledge and perspectives acquired to their growing businesses, further shaping the entrepreneurial landscape in Lesotho. The transformative initiative was launched following Lesotho’s successful acquisition of a loan from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank to execute the Lesotho Competitiveness and Financial Inclusion (CAFI) Project.

The main goal of the CAFI Project is to enhance the availability of business support services and financial products for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs, with a special emphasis on women and youth. To gauge the effectiveness of the project, specific indicators have been established. These include tracking the number of women-owned and youth-owned enterprises benefiting from private sector initiatives, the amount of financing accessed by women-owned enterprises through the programme, and the percentage of women-owned and youth-owned enterprises supported by the programme that experience increased revenue and employment.

The overarching goal of this project is to strengthen Lesotho’s emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem and enhance access to early-stage funding for start-ups and innovative SMEs, with a specific emphasis on businesses owned by youth and women.

This will be achieved through the implementation of various activities, such as the establishment of an Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed Financing Facility. These initiatives aim to enhance the quality and range of integrated start-up business support services and improve access to early-stage funding.

One of the key deliverables of the project is the incubation of up to 500 start-ups and innovative SMEs over a period of five years. As a result, enterprises and entrepreneurs submitted applications for a six-month incubation period. This incubation programme was facilitated by five selected Enterprise Support Organizations (ESOs), Namely Limkokwing University, NUL Innovation Hub under the National University of Lesotho, Basotho Enterprises Development Cooperation (BEDCO), the Entrepreneurs Network (TEN), and, Gem Institute. Each of these organizations was awarded M1.9 million, totalling M9.5 million. CAFI which also run the famous Lesotho Enterprise Assistance Program (LEAP), established a

Horticulture Incubation Hub in Mahobong, expand creation of Fruits Farms building on the successes of Likhothola, Maoamafubelu and Likhetlane. It also establishes a Disaster Risk Financing for MSMEs during emergencies, improve Government to Business Services and Financial Inclusion. The Registrar of Limkokwing University, Mateboho Masupha, expressed gratitude towards the government of Lesotho for backing the innovative business concepts of young individuals. She proceeded to offer valuable advice and guidance to the winners on how they can effectively manage their businesses and maintain the funds provided to them.

“Record keeping is of utmost importance, report every transaction that takes place in your business so that you can trace every single cent of the money that is awarded to you,” said Masupha.

She proceeded to explain that their primary objective is to generate profits, therefore they must ensure to achieve that target to sustain their businesses. Masupha emphasized the importance of managing expenses, urging the winners to excel in this area while also meeting their clients’ requirements efficiently. “Adhere to your financial plans as they serve as the foundation for all business operations. Fulfill your tax obligations as a responsible citizen contributing to the nation’s progress,” she said advising them to mix business with pleasure.

Tšepiso Serabele, representing a winner from Weekly Observer, expressed her appreciation for the chance provided by CAFI and shared insights into their beginnings. She said that the concept of launching an online news platform originated during their internship, prompting them to venture into their own project post-internship using the skills gained.

“We started with nothing. We had no resources but we were given the opportunity to use the space, the Wi-Fi and mentorship was availed at LEAP,” Serabele explained. However she stressed that most challenges she saw the youth face entrepreneurship were related to implementation of the brilliant ideas they had. This is to say that limitation of resources and funds has been a barrier to youth dependency in business.

When elaborating further, she said it is very important for the government to invest in youth and natives’ project as this is a catalyst to economic development and pleaded with the youth aspiring and those who are already in business to make use of every opportunity and resource at their disposal. She urged beneficiaries to make proper use of the allocated funds. “Let us use this money that we are funded with very wisely because funding with no proper management will be pointless. Let us all strive to empower Lesotho and her younger people,” she said.

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