The Ministry of Trade and Industry has launched the Lesotho Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed Financing Facility at the event held on Wednesday in Maseru.

The Government of Lesotho has received financing from the World Bank to implement the Competitiveness and Financial Facility Inclusion (CAFI) which aims to facilitate the development of a comprehensive entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Thabiso Molapo said the Ministry is confident that this initiative will address the challenge faced by Basotho entrepreneurs especially women and youth.

Dr Molapo said Lesotho Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed Financing Facility will be an entrepreneurship knowledge hub and business incubator that will work with entrepreneurs to help them learn how to turn their ideas into an enterprise, saying this initiative came at an opportune time when the country is faced with socioeconomic challenges that include poverty and high rate of youth unemployment.

He further mentioned that these situations were worsened by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which led to massive job loss.

He said the establishment of the Lesotho Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed Financing Facility is the most transformational intervention that is designed to address the lack of access to business support, service and financial products in Lesotho.

He urged all key players in the entrepreneurship ecosystem to make full use of this facility and other initiatives under this project that are intended to strengthen compatibility, increase trade, promote investment, foster innovation and promote entrepreneurship in Lesotho.

Dr Molapo assured the full support of his ministry for this initiative established

In conclusion, he thanked the World Bank for its technical and financial support in the launch of this project and other developing partners.

The Country Director-World Bank, Ms. Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly said she is pleased to be part of the launch, noting that it is supported by USD 52 million which is M900 million.

Ms. Marie-Nelly thanked the Government of Lesotho for recognising that it was important to allocate so many resources for this project that supports Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

She said she believes that they are starting a journey toward the creation of the authentic private sector in Lesotho for innovation and entrepreneurship.

She said they are looking at youth and women because they have done gender assessment and it showed that there are women who are still behind in the area of economics but can participate in the creation of wealth and in the development of innovative ideas.

She said she was pleased to see that the project will address the issue of gender equality in the country.

The South African High Commissioner to Lesotho, Ms. Constance Seoposengwe expressed the belief that this is a true opportunity for entrepreneurs in Lesotho who are starting up and those established as they seek to grow their enterprise.

Ms. Seoposengwe said she was pleased to assist in promoting the initiative here in Lesotho, saying the Department of Science and Innovation in South Africa has initiated the design and development of the innovation through digital.

She applauded the Lesotho government’s efforts in the revamp of the innovation portal in partnership with the Southern African Department of Small Business, the department of Science and Innovation and the Ministry of Trade and Industry. She, therefore, assured their support towards Lesotho Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed Financing Facility.

On the same note, the Head of Project Management Unit, Mr. Chaba Mokuku said the objective of the project is to increase access to business support services and financing that are targeted at the MSMEs and entrepreneurship, especially women and youth.

Mr. Mokuku said enhancing financial inclusion and resilience for MSMEs will improve access to financial services and enhance digital services to more effectively serve MSMEs, saying this will strengthen the resilience of MSMEs to climatic disasters and shocks.

The Lesotho Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed Financing Facility was established to facilitate the development of a comprehensive entrepreneurship ecosystem in Lesotho by establishing a sustainable and privately managed entrepreneurship Hub.

By Staff Reporter: Noliwe Velaphe

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