What do you do with paper as soon as you’re done with it? You crumple it up and “basketball hoop” it into a dustbin. Not for Setlhare Jane.
“Recycling is one of the best projects I’ve worked on.” He lights up as he talks about his entrepreneurship journey.
Setlhare Jane is a National University of Lesotho graduate who has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Technology. He is also an entrepreneur.
Jane has a business in recycling waste and turning it into furniture and cabinetry, and another in creating business opportunities for Basotho men and women by creating and selling soap. His team at the National University Research and Innovation does a lot of research on using raw materials to improve the quality of life.
His very first customer
“I was my very first customer. I created a coffee table out of waste paper and I was using it in my house. I didn’t even think of selling it. The first person who came to my house fell in love with it and placed an order.”
Lesotho Industrial Consultants, which is his other business, creates soap that is made of 100% natural ingredients.
“All these other soaps tend to be harsh on the skin because they are made of artificial ingredients,” he says. “It took us about a year and a half to come up with a natural soap. And now every Mosotho has the ability to make one for themselves, and sell at a gainful price.”
Lesotho Industrial Consultants hosts workshops for Basotho individuals and corporates who would like to create their own businesses selling soap. It costs M200 to create a soap business. “You can sell for anywhere between M10 and M50. We already have clients selling at Pioneer.”
Challenges and how he perseveres
“The greatest challenge has been finding a place to host our businesses. Rent is expensive especially for startups.” Jane also happily faces his daily challenges because they drive his growth.
Working for Ntate Thamae, the National University of Lesotho Research and Innovation projects supervisor, motivates Jane to push further. “He motivates me to never fight the system, but to develop a new one,” he recalls.
Tips for those who want to become entrepreneurs
“The recycling project gave me tangible results only three years later after I started it. I saw it all come together after this long. People want to see immediate results, otherwise they give up and go on to the next project. Be patient, stay focused. No excuses. If you keep at it, you will find a way.”
“Our government also has to help, yes. But we have to stop the tendency to wait for capital in order to start a business.” He encourages others to find ways to start, and keep at it.
“Find out how people in the sphere that you want to be in started their own businesses. There is a Sesotho proverb that says ‘Mohale o tsoha maroleng’ (which, roughly translated, means a legend rises from the dirt). Proverbs like these come into being because they speak of someone’s experience.”
“I also urge people to read. I read every day. I research what other people did, and how they got successful. There are free resources on the internet now, books are accessible more now than ever before.”
He concluded by pointing out that success ought not be sought at the top. “We all want the end-result, to get to the destination, without willing to do what it takes to fulfill that journey.
Diamonds are not placed mid-air. They are underground so that we can dig for them, and keep digging until we get to that valuable stone we very much want.”
Looking into the future
“I want to create a product that people need, not just because of ‘support local’. I would like to see a lot of Basotho products being of the highest quality and standard.”
“I’m still a work in progress. We are taking a step forward every day, but I’m inspired by the reception I get from Basotho.”
You can get hold of Setlhare Jane through his pages on Facebook:
Lesotho Industrial Consultants
Cmat For Waste