Seek to empower women through “Her Empire” programme
MASERU – Giant telecommunication company, Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL), this week entered into a working relationship with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Maseru. The signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aims to capacitate and improve women-led businesses in the country. ETL will provide technical and required support digitally by launching a platform called e-Commerce that will sell products by businesses owned by women under the UNDP initiative called “Her Empire”.
Speaking at the event, UNDP Resident Representative, Nessie Golakai Gould, said this is not the first time a relationship of this nature is agreed on by the two parties. She said the new MOU will add new ventures to the existing partnership between the two, starting with support to another UNDP accelerator lab initiative which seeks to support and grow women-led businesses in Lesotho named “Her Empire”. This partnership will assist in meeting some of the challenges faced by businesses led by women, especially young women.
She said: “The initiative kick-started in May 2022 and enrolling 18 women who lead their own enterprises in different sectors. This is the first cohort of women-led enterprises being enrolled in this initiative.” Golakai explained that the objective of this initiative is to ensure that women-led enterprises improve their business capacity, transforming into an ionic business framework pioneered by women and are able to compete at the highest level of service provision, including participation in public and private procurement processes.
Among other things, the ETL has pledged to support the initiative with technologies required to enable women-led enterprises to thrive in a world filled with uncertainty. She said though Covid-19 brought several challenges, it however opened technological opportunities for businesses where there was a rise in e-commerce across the borders.
“We believe this collaboration with ETL will assist in responding to some of the emerging issues faced by women-led businesses while also enabling the generation of employment opportunities,” she noted. Meanwhile, ETL’s CEO Dennis Plaatjies said small businesses are the core of the country’s economy, especially those that are led by women. Therefore, through this agreement they will help improve these businesses and provide a broader market for them through the platform that will also sell internationally.
“As ETL we are on the journey of digital transformation. We are moving from a connectivity service provider to a digital service provider where we need to be in a position that we assist small enterprises, businesses and Basotho as individuals to be able to take advantage of the digital service, to be able to develop and effectively ensure that their operations work effectively and efficiently,” he said.
Small enterprises are very challenged when it comes to reaching their markets ETL, therefore, made a provision of an application that will enable users to reach their markets and be able make use of their products, he added.
Plaatjies said the ETL recently decided that it needs to bring a platform that will enable Basotho and their businesses to be able to trade globally as nowadays competition is no longer within the geographical boundaries but is now global.
He said the developed platform will also assist medium, micro and small enterprises to be in a position that they are able to have their products online, trade online, have anyone consume their products online and pay securely on the same platform.
ETL and UNDP will, under this partnership, be able to look into and escalate the usage and adoption of technology as a response to emerging development challenges.