DESPITE tough budgetary constraints resulting from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project (BEP) will help 50 youth entrepreneurs and disburse a total of M2 million to at least 10 businesses through a business plan competition.
April 2, 2022
3 min read
M2m earmarked for youth entrepreneurship
Standard Lesotho Bank CEO, Anton Nicolaisen
- The businesses to be incubated to ensure sustainability and growth
- Beneficiaries will be enrolled into a programme overseen by BEDCO
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These businesses will be incubated to ensure their sustainability and growth.
Launched last year, the BEDCO enterprise development programme is funded by the African Development Bank through its youth development component.
Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO), Standard Lesotho Bank and the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) are also contributing to the project that was launched in 2014.
Since its inception, the project has funded 17 youth owned businesses with a total of M2.9million provided by entrants through a business plan competition.
Beneficiaries of this project are enrolled into a business incubation programme overseen by BEDCO, which provides them with an array of business support services.
During this round, which encompasses phase three and phase four of the project, the BEP will augment the BEDCO enterprise development program.
The project will target youth with a COSC/LGCSE and existing youth enterprises with a minimum of two years in operation across all sectors.
“Through this round 10 youth enterprises will be developed and an estimated 30 jobs created,” said BEDCO Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Idia Penane on Tuesday.
“This will go a long way in addressing the high rate of youth unemployment which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Ms Penane said the project presented a successful example of a collaboration between the private sector and the public sector in driving job creation amongst the youth towards contributing to poverty reduction and Lesotho’s economic development.
“We would like to encourage more players in the private sector to join hands with us in fighting the youth unemployment crises that we face as a country,” she said.
To date the success rate of the project has been around 70 percent, generating 56 jobs. The project has also provided 145 aspiring entrepreneurs with entrepreneurial skills.
The project initially targeted unemployed youth aspiring to be future entrepreneurs aged between 21 and 35 with first degree as a minimum requirement.
As it progressed, the project saw the incorporation of youth with LGCSE/COSC of the same age range.
Standard Lesotho Bank CEO, Anton Nicolaisen said while the economy was starting to open and making inroads towards going back to normal life, the country remained confronted with the same old challenges of youth unemployment and very few opportunities for the youth to claim a stake in the economic development.
“As a leading financial services provider, we have been instrumental in helping improve the lives of people and businesses in Lesotho in a number of ways,” he said.
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“We aspire not only to be seen purely just as a bank, but a partner for growth, hence our decision to partner with these incredible two giants in making sure that we help deserving youth entrepreneurs to start and develop sustainable businesses,” Mr Nicolaisen said.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that despite being well educated and representing the labour force of tomorrow, nearly 75 million youth are unemployed globally.
The World Bank has also shown that unemployment of the youth population aged between 15 and 24 years has been increasing faster in Africa than in other parts of the world.