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BEDCO re-launches business plan competition



MASERU – THE Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) on Monday re-launched the Business Plan Competition (BCP) which was suspended late last year.
The competition was suspended after the process was hijacked by a shadowy group calling itself the Business Development Service Providers Association Lesotho (BDSPAL).
The CEO of BEDCO, Pesha Shale, said they are hopeful that this time around the competition will proceed without any hiccups.
Shale stated that they have tried to mitigate possible risks and can only hope for the best.

“We have even engaged with the group and we have decided to let bygones be bygones as we hope that we have all learned from our mistakes,” Shale said.
Applications are now open until February 2 to anyone over 18 years and under 40 seeking an opportunity to enhance their entrepreneurship journey.
Youths and women are encouraged to apply and applicants will still use the online facility to apply.

The competition offers aspiring and established Basotho business entrepreneurs a chance to win a share of M1 million as well as training and business support.
The competition is part of the corporation’s Promoting Enterprise Development (PED) programme, which aims to help small businesses with finance, training, mentorship and incubation.
The idea is to help start, nurture and support small businesses so they create jobs and contribute to the diversification of Lesotho’s economy.
The ultimate goal is to create an economy anchored on the private sector and wean it off its reliance on the public sector.

The PED is financed by the African Development Bank with technical support from the government’s Economic Diversification Support Project.
The programme was established to assess and develop the current Business Development Service (BDS) market growth strategy.
The strategy that will come out of the assessment will be used to support the second mission of the PED, which is to help “nurture start-up businesses and entrepreneurs through development of a strategy and implementation plan for business incubation”.

The Business Plan Competition, which is the third aspect of the PED, seeks to encourage “young and innovative people with credible business ideas to gain access to the required business support”.
The competition is targeted at Basotho youths and women interested in manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and renewable energy.
Shale said the first phase of the competition will shortlist 110 businesses that will be trimmed to 20 and then 10 finalists who “will have an opportunity to win cash prizes”.

“Expectation is that 50 percent of these (businesses) should be women-owned,” Shale said.
The competition will cover an eight-month cycle that will include submission of the business plans, as well as training on how to improve and pitch them to potential investors or funders for the last 20 entrepreneurs.

He said in addition to getting a share of the M1 million start-up or business development support, the final 10 will receive incubation and entrepreneurship development training.
The panel of judges will be drawn from local and regional experts. Shale emphasised that the competition “is open to people in all districts and should not be seen as a Maseru thing”.
He said Lesotho is in the race to diversify its economy and alleviate poverty.
Lesotho’s economy, he said, is dangerously reliant on the public sector which can no longer create new jobs and boost economic growth.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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