Whether you’re just starting out, looking for an entrepreneurs’ networking event or eyeing a funding opportunity to scale your business, below are several platforms that accelerate young entrepreneurs in Lesotho.
LEAP- Lesotho Enterprise Assistance Programme
The LEAP matching grant scheme was designed to help strengthen business capacity of the private firms, mostly Basotho-owned micro, small, medium enterprise (MSMEs), as well as their representative organizations through provision of financial and technical assistance to buy business development services with the aim of increasing their competitiveness.
The LEAP grant scheme helps strengthen business capacity to increase efficiency, productivity, and access to new markets. The grant helps startups improve their products. Assistance provided under the program includes grants for technical capacity building to improve market readiness, development of marketing tools such as websites and other branding and promotional material and the development of business systems or software.
Maluti Mountain Brewery Kickstart Project
Project Kickstart is Maluti Mountain Brewery’s flagship Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, which is an innovative program aimed at addressing the social impact of youth unemployment and inculcating a spirit of entrepreneurship amongst young people in Lesotho.
Project Kickstart accepts applications from young Basotho nationals aged between 18 and 35 years for financing of their startup business idea or expansion of existing small to medium-scale business of 5 years or less. Successful Project Kickstart winners receive post-award business mentoring and coaching to ensure sustainable success of their business ventures.
LCCI – Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a local organization of businesses and companies in Lesotho with the intention to develop and further the interests of local companies and businesses in Lesotho. Many businesses are international operating companies with offices in Lesotho.
Members of a Chamber of Commerce are usually international and local operating companies, such as lawyers, property developers, tourism companies, airlines, manufacturing companies, import and export businesses, banks, finance companies, legal advisors, IT and electronic manufacturers etc.
The main activities of Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry are, among others, safeguarding business interests and sharing business experiences and business interests, improving the legislative framework in Lesotho, contact with governments, civil society, local media, and the press and organizing trade shows and events.
The Hook Up Dinner – Maseru
The Hook Up Dinner Maseru hosts monthly meetups for local entrepreneurs in Lesotho. The meetups are hosted at OPEN Collaborative Workspaces.
At the dinners, entrepreneurs are collaborating, bartering services, doing business together, peer-to-peer mentoring, sharing contacts and hooking each other up with potential business leads.
The Hook Up Dinner has grown to a networking community of entrepreneurs with ideas to change the world by engaging and contributing to each other’s success. It consists of networking, pitching sessions, and dynamic talks.
Standard Lesotho Bank
Standard Lesotho Bank through its Enterprise Banking sector aids young entrepreneurs tackle some of the major challenges startups face. More specifically, through loans available for businesses at different stages, the banks makes it easy for entrepreneurs to access finance and startup capital.
Previously, the bank has helped entrepreneurs through various loans amounting to a whopping M54 million. The bank has also introduced services tailored directly to entrepreneurs. This is to expedite some of the banking services for young entrepreneurs.
Besides, Standard Lesotho Bank has opened The Enterprise Hub located at the new Business Banking premises at Maseru Mall. This facility provides support to start-up companies and gives young entrepreneurs the boost they need for their businesses by offering a range of free services such as, Wi-Fi, Work and meeting space, Market information, Presentation facilities, Skills development activities, and others.
Bacha Entrepreneurial Project
Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDCO) Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), and Standard Lesotho Bank have joined efforts to assist young unemployed graduates between ages of 21 and 35 to become employers and drivers of economic growth by becoming entrepreneurs.
The project is intended to build a crop of young entrepreneurs and fund viable, sustainable and profitable business proposals for a combined startup capital of M500, 000.
Bacha Entrepreneurial Project specifically targets young graduates between the ages of 21 and 35. Business proposals are not limited to any particular areas of interest or discipline, but are selected only on merit based on viability, a strong business case and longevity.
Vodacom Innovation Park
Vodacom Innovation Park is a technology-based business incubator for young entrepreneurs in Lesotho in any area of business, that are looking to leverage the power of technology and mobile communications to differentiate, and make their businesses more competitive and productive.
It encourages entrepreneurship in technology and at instilling an overall culture of entrepreneurship in the youth of Lesotho to curb the effects of the devastatingly high unemployment rate of young people.
The Vodacom Foundation has previously spent R5 million in investing into this game changing initiative and as a way to provide startup funding to young entrepreneurs.
BEDCO – Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation
BEDCO provides business development support services for small and medium-sized enterprises in Lesotho. It offers assistance for enterprise establishment and development; technical and business management training to entrepreneurs and trainees; counseling assistance to entrepreneurs in various managerial skills; technical know-how to entrepreneurs for quality control, design, and marketing products; and advisory services.
BEDCO also provides machines, equipment, and workspace for rental; assistance for raw material procurement; and assistance and counseling for subcontracting furniture making. Whiles there’s no direct startup funding available through BEDCO, it however provides financial linkages to small businesses. BEDCO strives to become a partner of first choice in enterprise development.
What have we left out? What other platforms that accelerate young entrepreneurs in Lesotho do you know?
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