Youth co-operative eyes greater business heights

‘MAPALO NKHELOANE

MASERU – Rakhoebo The Connect, a youth co-operative comprising youth-owned enterprises, is determined to take youth entrepreneurship in Lesotho to greater heights.

Rakhoebo The Connect’s seeks to ensure that youth-owned businesses under it empower each other through sharing information, networks and resources through barter systems, member-to-member funding, collaborations and advertising of one another’s products and services.

The organisation, launched in December 2018 by founder Neo Mohaleroe, has grown from just four members in January 2019 to a total of 18 in November 2019, which growth counts as one of the organisation’s biggest achievements.

Mohaleroe notes the organisation believes in creating impactful entrepreneurship-based events and projects that not only benefit its members but the community at large.

“Many young entrepreneurs have given up on their dreams of owning businesses because of lack of support from corporates, family and friends. Rakhoebo The Connect was established to create a platform where young entrepreneurs can meet like-minded people to create a sense of community where young people are able to empower one another and grow together,” Mohaleroe says.

She urges the youth not to give up on their dreams of making it big in entrepreneurship, emphasising that now is an exciting time for young entrepreneurs in Lesotho.

Mohaleroe says the government and big corporates have since taken notice of the work that young people are doing towards entrepreneurship. She believes spreading more positive news about the good deeds of the youth and creating more platforms for youth-owned businesses to thrive will ensure a bright future for young people.

 

Public Eye interviewed one of Rakhoebo The Connect’s members Rethabile Matela earlier this year.

Matela is the Founder of Prosperity Productions which produces fashionable bags using the popular seshoeshoe facbric.

The 25-year-old bag designer said being part of Rakhoebo The Connect has by far been one of her greatest blessings because she gets to work with like-minded people, to collaborate and help each other’s businesses grow exponentially.

She recently worked with Selemela, a non-profit making education organisation to produce local content that will supplement the arts and entrepreneurship curriculum to help Grade 8 learners to connect the syllabus to the real world.

Prosperity Production now has a new range of seshoeshoe card holders and wallets which are much sought-after.

Since embarking on the journey to a Lesotho free from unemployed youth, Rakhoebo The Connect has made several impactful moves.

In December 2018 at its launch, Rakhoebo hosted 10 young entrepreneurs at Lancers Inn, Maseru to pitch their businesses in front of a panel of potential investors and mentors.

In February 2019, members of Rakhoebo The Connect collaborated to create the Rakhoebo The Connect website which is a go-to tool for anyone looking for business-related information.

In April 2019, the organisation’s members collaborated and hosted a picnic for 32 young women in various fields to talk about the challenges they face in their different fields. The young women were taught a range of skills including coping strategies by a registered psychologist.

In August 2019 Rakhoebo The Connect members collaborated to sponsor a blog Titled ‘Self epiphany’ for a young and aspiring writer Hannah Sijaji who hopes to use her writing to impact youths in her community.

Business-oriented members of Rakhoebo also collaborated and hosted a Patent and Trademark workshop with the aid of the Law Office of Lesotho to create awareness on intellectual property theft and why it is important for young people to protect and register their ideas.

“In November 2019 Rakhoebo The Connect collaborated and hosted a free business and law masterclass with lawyer and entrepreneur, Donald Ntsiki.

“The aim was for young entrepreneurs to learn about corporate governance. Rakhoebo also developed a free website for young entrepreneur Lesole Mongaula to be launched in December,” Mohaleroe said.

According to the founder, the biggest challenge they are faced with as a youth-owned organisation is debunking the myth that all young entrepreneurs are lazy, in-efficient and are out to look for hand-outs.

“The truth is, Lesotho is full of skillful and passionate young people who are willing to put in hard work and make their businesses succeed,” she said, debunking the misconception.

With its positive and ambitious vision, Mohaleroe says, the future looks bright for the organisation and in five years, she expects Rakhoebo The Connect to be an established brand with co-working spaces in all corners of Lesotho. These spaces, she says, will serve as incubation hubs to develop skills of young Basotho who want to impact their communities.

“We will have The Rakhoebo Fund, which will help fund young business owners and get them on their way to owning successful enterprises. There will be a Rakhoebo The Connect business exchange programme where young business owners will get the chance to travel the world and learn skills from other countries and bring the knowledge back home,” Mohaleroe says.

 

 

 

 

 

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