MALUTI Mountain Brewery (MMB) Managing Director Tom Mpedi says the company’s youth entrepreneurship development programme Kickstart has made a significant impact in the lives of Basotho.
Mr Mpedi made the remark during a recent tour of five businesses that benefited from the Kickstart project. The programme is part of a SABMiller-wide Youth Empowerment Programme of which MMB is an affiliate company. Kickstart trains and finances budding entrepreneurs selected through an application process by an independent team of business experts.
The winning ventures were Veggie Shack, a hydroponics business that produces vegetables; House of Thethana, a fashion design house producing printed fabrics and accessories; PEMS 24 Seven, an emergency medical services company; Lekaota Media which produces an entrepreneurship magazine and recording studio Les Rhythms.
Mr Mpedi said he was impressed by the progress made by the beneficiaries so far, although there was room for improvement.
“I am very impressed and encouraged by what I have seen today. We visited five projects, and I can safely say they are likely to continue sustaining themselves,” he said.
“While there are areas still needing to be addressed, they all demonstrated the ability to sustain themselves going forward.”
The MD noted that if the enterprises were run as personal projects and not companies, they would not realise their full potential.
“What I picked up during the tour is most of the Kickstarters see these businesses as personal pet projects,” he said.
“I think they need to think beyond that. They need to realise that finding a partner can help them to access capital.”
Mr Mpedi said the project had brought about real change in the lives of young Basotho by fostering private-sector led growth built upon enterprises.
“We believe we have touched a lot of lives as Maluti Mountain Brewery and the Kickstart project,” he said, adding that the second round of grant disbursements would begin soon.
“Our stated objective is to alleviate unemployment and reduce poverty while creating employment. This is driven by the fact that Lesotho has high rates of unemployment with a lot of university graduates failing to find jobs.
“Some people even have two degrees, but they are unemployed. That’s how dire the situation is. So, Kickstart was meant to close that gap.”
On behalf of the beneficiaries, PEMS 24 Seven’s Retselisitsoe Mohanoe, said the M100 000 they received from the brewery had helped them acquire an ambulance vehicle and high quality equipment for their emergency medical services.
“The grant also ensured that the company increased its staff complement from six to nine,” he said.
“I see a very bright future for this business as I am lucky enough to be working with like-minded people who are willing to put the effort in taking this company forward.”