GOVERNMENT this week announced a M133 million project funding to enhance its economic diversification agenda through targeting small and youth-owned enterprises.
The government’s Economic Diversification Support Project (EDSP) is aimed at providing financial and technical assistance to the country’s 76 000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as well as the approximately 7500 youths who graduate each year from tertiary institutions.
“These are the two groups that the project will target directly and indirectly, that are an emerging force for economic development and job creation,” a statement from the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project (PSCEDP) said.
The PSCEDP, which is financed by the World Bank, is the implementing agency for the project which runs from January 2017 to December 2020.
PSCEDP Project Manager, Chaba Mokuku told the Lesotho Times the rationale for housing EDSP, which is financed by the African Development Bank Group with the sum of UA 7.22 million (about US$10.06 million and M130 million) under PSCEDP, was that the two projects were complementary and it would be efficient to operate them under a single, existing structure.
“The aim of the project is to support government plans for inclusive growth through enhanced economic diversification and enterprise development. Coordinated by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, over four years the project will provide financial and technical assistance towards improving the policy environment.
“The project has three mutually reinforcing components: (i) promoting enterprise development, (ii) enhancing economic diversification; and (iii) project management support. Its sub-components include (1) matching curriculum development to the job market to ensure that graduates go into key economic driving sectors (2) business incubation and mentorship to ensure SMMEs graduate to medium and large enterprises through capacity building of business development services, as well as partnerships and apprenticeships (3) Development of Standards framework to ensure public health and safety, as well as competitiveness for Lesotho products to access local and international markets,” the statement further said.
Mr Mokuku said the beneficiaries would be selected through a business plan competition while business development agencies would also be capacitated.
Speaking at the Monday launch, Deputy Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Fusi Notoane said government had identified the manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and mining sectors as the main growth drivers necessary to sustain economic growth in the country.
Also speaking at the same event, the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Small Business, Likonelo Hlasoa said the project had a strategic importance in enhancing economic development in the country.
The launch brought together stakeholders from private and public sector including representatives from Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho, Federation of Women in Business, officials from the Lesotho National Development Corporation; Basotho Enterprises Development Cooperation; and Lesotho Tourism Development Cooperation.