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FNB dangles M1m for local businesses

MATHATISI SEBUSI

 MASERU – Ten Basotho businesses which have been in operation for at least three years with a clear financial track record stand a chance to win a share of M1 million through its soon-to-launched ‘Business Funding’ competition hosted by FNB Lesotho.

Eligible businesses also need to have at least three staff members in their employ and have an annual turnover of M2 million. The competition is meant to boost small businesses in the country following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at FNB Lesotho, Delekazi Mokebe, in a statement this week said FNB Lesotho understands the important role that small business play in society.

She said as part of the bank’s ongoing efforts to help revitalise the economy and business sector, the bank will be launching this competition aimed at small businesses owned by Basotho. “We are excited to launch this great initiative and provide real help to those businesses in need. Contribution by small businesses is vital for the survival of our economy and initiatives like these provide a great platform to boost small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19,” Mokebe said.

She noted that 10 small businesses, regardless of whether they are FNB clients or not, will be selected to stand a chance of winning a share of the money. She underlined the money is not a loan but a grant to boost small businesses. Mokebe noted the bank will provide the winners with a mentorship programme to ensure they are equipped with skills to manage and run their businesses during these tough economic times.

Mokebe said the competition is open to businesses in the agricultural sector (production and agri-processing), manufacturing sector, event management sector and the tourism sector. “These sectors, among many others, hold and shape the economy of Lesotho. We believe Basotho have the skills and ability to build strong businesses which will contribute to the sector and, ultimately, the economy,” she said.

She said to enter the competition businesses should have been in operation for a minimum of three years by now with a clear financial track record, and should have at least three employees, including the owner, with an annual turnover of M2 million. The competition is open to all Basotho-owned businesses, including non FNB customers, she added. Speaking to this publication, FNB Lesotho Marketing Manager, Lebohang Setlalekgosi, indicated that businesses which will win their share based on their business needs and projections from the M1 million funding pool will be selected from a number of expected entrants.

Commenting on what motivated the FNB Lesotho to launch the competition, Setlalekgosi said the Coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed the country’s economy and they decided to assist the affected sectors to help boost the economy. She said the gesture is mainly to give back to Basotho during these tough times, adding that the bank had in the past made other initiatives meant to support small business holders and Basotho in general to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said from December 2020 the bank started reaching out in needy areas in Mokhotlong and Mafeteng to donate food parcels to affected families and since 2020 the bank has been offering cash flow relief to both its businesses and individual clients. Over M80 million was availed as relief to FNB Lesotho clients in 2020.

Public Eye reported earlier this year that the challenges posed by the rampant Coronavirus pandemic have presented the bank with the need to redefine its current views on corporate social responsibility (CSR) from a voluntary luxury to a necessity. And with COVID-19 seriously disrupting the global economy and Lesotho’s social and economic activities, it’s not business-as-usual as it has changed the way citizens live and how the bank responds.

Hinged on a solid CSR conviction and advised by its brand philosophy, FNB Lesotho promised to continue and heighten its CSR programme in the country’s 10 districts in light of the second wave of the pandemic. Since the dawn of the pandemic the bank has mainly focused on citizens affected by COVID-19 in several ways as some have lost jobs, while others have buried their loved ones who were sole bread winners in their families.

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