MALUTI Mountain Brewery (MMB) has joined forces with the Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO in this year’s edition of the Kickstart initiative which seeks to curb the country’s high unemployment.
This was revealed on Monday during the launch of the second round of Kickstart which was officially opened by Gender, Youth and Sports Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu at the British Library in Maseru.
The youth entrepreneurship development programme trains and finances budding entrepreneurs selected through an application process by an independent team of business experts.
The first round of the programme was launched in February 2013 with the six proposals that received funding announced in August of the next year.
This year, 55 budding entrepreneurs representing 31 companies across the country will undergo a two-week intensive business skills training programme. MMB increased the fund, for this edition, from the previous M800 000 to M1 million.
In her remarks, Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO Secretary General, Palesa Montši, said the programme was being executed through Student Training for Entrepreneurial Promotion (STEP) offered by the agency in partnership with Leuphana University and German Commission for UNESCO.
“The programme is divided into 12 modules and is facilitated here in Lesotho by a team of experts drawn from NUL (National University of Lesotho), IEMS (Institute of Extra Mural Studies), Lerotholi Polytechnic, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Centre for Accounting Studies and Lesotho Agricultural College,” said Ms Montši.
“Both the STEP and Kickstart projects are indeed very appropriate programmes for Lesotho today as they come at a time when the country is grappling with the challenge of unemployment, and most unfortunately under employment of fresh graduates from universities and other institutions of learning.”
She said the initiative was in line with the Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO’s endevour to improve educational quality, life opportunities and to reduce youth unemployment.
“This noble idea is also in line with the UN Decade on ‘Education for sustainable Development’ which calls for the creation of opportunities for everyone to develop the knowledge, skills and values to act upon the sustainability changes presented by the 21st century,” Ms Montši said.
On his part, MMB Managing Director Tom Mpedi said the project aimed to harness the skills of young people to ensure the establishment of sustainable businesses.
“This group of young men and women managed to convince our judges that there is something within them that can be tapped and should be supported for the betterment of their lives and the economy of the country,” said Mr Mpedi.
“So far, they have been selected on the potential of their ideas. They will undergo training which will leave no stone unturned in teaching them how to plan a business properly and showing the risks and opportunities of their businesses.
“Thereafter, they will write their business plans for MMB’s consideration, with the proposals’ viability and potential employment opportunities some of the factors that would be considered.”
He said it was also their intention for the project to benefit entrepreneurs from across the country and not just from Maseru.
“The business ideas that have been presented vary. They are in the fields of health, manufacturing, construction, food, technology, machinery, finance, clothing, arts, farming and media,” Mr Mpedi said.
“Unlike the first edition, we have candidates from districts other than Maseru such as Qacha’s Nek, Mokhotlong, Butha-Buthe, Mohale’s Hoek, Mafeteng, Berea and Leribe.
“Our hope is that in future all the districts can be represented in a pool of candidates who are selected. Basotho youth should not feel like the only way they can prosper is if they live in the capital city of Maseru. There is a lot that can be done in the other parts of the country as well.”