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Heavens smile on street vendor

’Manthabeleng Leuta

June 20, 2019 2 min read

…as ETL hands over building to Leuta. Tears of joy streamed down ’Manthabeleng Leuta’s cheeks on Tuesday as she was handed over a building to operate her small tuckshop by Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL).

Ms Leuta who works as a street vendor moved into the old ETL building this week, leaving behind her old unhygienic spot which she had occupied for the past 10 years. The old makeshift stall she used to operate sold a variety of snacks, sweets and fruits next to the ETL main gate under an old pine tree. Ms Leuta is one of several micro entrepreneurs who eke out a living through operating small businesses. Through selling her ware on the streets, Ms Leuta who is a widow puts her three children in primary school.

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The tough businesswoman lost her husband in 2017. To finance her small business, she had a three-month part time job that enabled her to buy her first stock. “But the environment here is unhealthy because the place is dirty. Every morning when I arrive at my workstation, I have to clean up a lot of mess left by people who walk the streets at night. It is indeed quite a challenging job, which requires a lot of dedication. “It gets worse when it rains but I survive by covering myself with a plastic and sitting under an umbrella,” she says.

Every week day and Saturdays, she braves the cold weather conditions of winter, sitting at the ETL gate to sell her ware. Handing over the recently renovated building, ETL chief executive officer Dennis Plaatjies applauded Leuta for working hard over the years to earn a living. Mr Plaatjies said the company finally decided to get her out of the unpleasant place she used to work from to a more comfortable one. Ms Leuta’s new tuckshop has access to free electricity and is fitted with big shelves and a tiled floor. “We are also going to help her to offer Ecocash services,” he said, adding that part of ETL’s mandate is to empower street vendors to whom they donated branded umbrellas in the past. Mr Plaatjies pledged further support to Ms Leuta saying she also contributes to ETL staffers by selling her fruits and snacks to them.

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