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M400 000 shot in the arm for SMMEs

STD Lesotho Bank invest in local production

NEO SENOKO

MASERU – In a move to promote local productivity and capacity to supply local market and for potential future exports, Standard Lesotho Bank has invested M400 000 towards the suppliers’ development programme aimed at emancipating small holder producers in the country.

In partnership with the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the project, which was launched on Tuesday, seeks to create a platform on which different organisations will partner and mobilise resources for capacity building to support the local supply chains or ecosystems.

The initiative further seeks to facilitate access to markets for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise Sector (SMME) and enhance local competitiveness through exposure to global markets practices and standards as well as grow farmers from subsistence to commercial, through creating formal structures and taking the entrepreneurs through accreditation of standards.

The newly appointed Standard Lesotho Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Anton Nicolaisen, lauded the programme, underlining that it is at the centre of corporate social investment priorities under the umbrella of initiatives that make the bank’s Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP).

EDP is a comprehensive programme that has combined a number of initiatives in the areas of sponsorship and products that have been specifically tailored to meet the needs of the country’s economy.

The programme speaks to address the challenges of unemployment, lack of finance for SMMEs, financial inclusion as well as capacity challenges that face entrepreneurial sector in general.

“We launched this programme in 2018 and we have so far invested over M6 million in the last three years on interventions such as the lioness of Africa, skills development training, enterprise hub and the COVID-19 induced in entrepreneurship support completion last year,” Nicolaisen said when delivering his remarks.

He said the local supplier development programme therefore, is created as an intervention towards economic development, especially in the agribusiness, which has been identified as one of the game changers in the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II).

“As the responsible corporate citizen, we are intentional about growing the local economy. It is our business imperative and moral obligation to do the best we can to guarantee food security for our people. To promote self-reliance and to create opportunities that we see in the agricultural value chain,”

“At Standard Lesotho Bank, we firmly believe that we can grow a crop of agricultural products entrepreneurs that can make Lesotho self-sufficient in the long term and also be able to create and produce for local, regional and international market if they have the right skills and understand the channels of distribution in the agricultural sector,” the CEO added.

In her remarks, the UNDP resident representative to Lesotho, Betty Wabunoha, said developing countries like Lesotho are at jeopardy of being left behind due to inherent development challenges to adapt to the 21st century.

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, has put even more pressure on developing countries in line with human productivity, economic development and competitiveness.

Despite such challenges however, the local supplier development programme promises livelihood development, economic recovery and on the overall, creation of better development opportunities for Basotho small holder producers and SMMEs.

“In this regard, the local supply development programme initiative for promoting local productivity and capacity to supply local market and the potential for future exports, has resonated very well with the UNDP,” she noted.

With the programme focused on agriculture, the LNDC has also declared commitment to strengthening Lesotho business community and commercialisation of agriculture sector as directed by the NSDP II.

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