Business plan competition targets youth

NEO SENOKO

MASERU – Following the successful launch of the Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) last week, the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) officially launched a key component of the programme, the business plan competition on Wednesday this week. The business plan competition is a stream of the youth enterprises development project under the umbrella programme designed to respond to Pillar One of the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II) which seeks to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and private sector-led job creation.

Its competitive nature intends to highlight deserving Basotho youths who will make a meaningful contribution to the economy and Basotho at large. This year, the business plan competition has been scaled up and has been supported by the African Development Bank through the PED project. “A total of M10 million grant has been allocated to the business plan competition to facilitate access to finance and incubation support to the development of youth enterprises that demonstrate a high growth potential,” BEDCO Chief Executive Officer, Idia Penane, said during the launch.

The competition will provide access to financing through business plan competition to support establishment of youth Micro and Small Medium Enterprises. About 50 youth start up enterprises will each be awarded a total of M100 000 as seed capital. Incubation services will be made available to support the 50 youth MSMEs to ensure sustainability of the business and provide mentorship as well as capacity building for a total of 200 small businesses.

These will include all applicants of the competition. “The project is designed to create a paradigm shift among young Basotho from the pursuit of white-collar jobs to a culture of entrepreneurship development for economic development and job creation,” Penane added. Minister of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing, Machesetsa Mofomobe, hailed the programme, alluding to the fact that the high youth unemployment rate has been a major problem for the government.

Generally, he said, unemployment is caused by three factors such as the inability of the country to provide enough jobs, low educated and unskilled human resources and the weak capacity for national capital information. “However, there are ways to alleviate unemployment, such as providing education and training for those who are unemployed, as well as fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship. “Entrepreneurship in developing countries, both in the formal and informal sectors, is fundamental to creating employment, increasing production and raising standards of living,” Mofomobe said during the same event.

In 2018, BEDCO received support from the African Development Bank through the government of Lesotho under the Economic Diversification Support Project to support the growth and development of small businesses. Through this initiative, a business plan competition was launched in 2019 targeting youth-owned enterprises. Through this competition, 10 youth MSMEs were awarded M100 000 each in 2020 as seed capital and were also supported through business incubation where they received an array of business support services and resources to increase their growth and survival rate. Through the competition, almost 50 jobs have been created by the Basotho youth.

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