business

May 18, 2022

NEO SENOKO

3 min read

BEDCO tackles youth unemployment

BEDCO tackles youth unemployment

BEDCO CEO, Idia Penane

Story highlights

  • Another M5 million is up for grabs
  • 50 youth and women entrepreneurs to win M100 000 each

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THE second cohort of the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) business plan competition has officially been launched with the financial support from the African Development Bank.

The project will see 50 youth and women entrepreneurs win M100 000 each as seed capital along with business incubation support.

The business plan competition, initially launched by BEDCO, is expected to go a long way towards tackling high youth unemployment as well as bridging the growing inequality gap between the rich and the poor.

Under the economic diversification project (EDSP), the programme offers aspiring entrepreneurs a good opportunity to unleash their potential by kick-starting their ventures and honing their business skills.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Thabiso Molapo said through partnership with BEDCO, the business plan competition had helped launch diverse and ambitious enterprises in making a difference in the livelihoods of Basotho.

“We have heard - on different occasions - testimonies from the recipients and the public what difference the programme makes to many lives,” the minister said during the launch of the second round of the competition.

 “You will agree with me that the quality of intellectual capital among youth and women is immeasurable. They are able to process information into innovative ideas with so much ease. This initiative has therefore come at the right time when our country faces serious socio-economic challenges including the scourge of poverty and the high rate of youth unemployment.

“It has resulted in growing the inequality gap between the rich and the poor.”

Dr Molapo said the programme was the biggest and most transformational intervention by the government in addressing the lack of access to finance, especially for women and young entrepreneurs.

“The ultimate purpose of efforts of this nature is to take advantage of the existing domestic, regional and international markets,” he said.

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He noted that his ministry was collaborating with the Ministry of Small Business through a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed together with BEDCO and the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) in order to encourage new business start-ups.

This follows the successful implementation of the PED project which has three components that include business development support, business plan competition and business incubation.

The first component of the PED project was launched in 2019. Ten youth enterprises in four priority sectors under the National Strategic Development Plan II (NSDP II) have since been funded with M100 000 each to establish and develop their enterprises.

The second phase has been scaled up as a total of M10 million in seed capital will be disbursed to 100 youth and women enterprises.

Despite notable achievements in the past, BEDCO Chief Executive Officer, Idia Penane said there was still a lot more work to be done going forward to ensure success.

“We commit to continuously learn and strengthen our interventions in order to effectively deliver on our mandate,” she said.

Ms Penane added: “This contribution that the government is making through the support of the AFDB is but a drop in the ocean of hordes of unemployed youth that we have in our country. We are vigorously looking for other partnerships especially with other parastatals, corporates and experienced business owners to support Basotho youth and women businesses.”

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