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Kick-starting youth enterprises



Senate Sekotlo

MASERU – Leutsoa Khobotlo, 26, is an accredited soil analyst with a passion for farming.
Over the past few years Khobotlo has taught himself the science of soil testing, analysing the pH of the soil and its suitability to grow certain crops.
Soil pH is a measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of a soil.
On the pH scale, 7.0 is considered neutral while anything below 7.0 is considered acidic and anything above 7.0 is alkaline.

But without any formal qualifications, Khobotlo had to rely on the little Chemistry knowledge he had gleaned from class during his high school days to test soil using litmus paper.
To do so he had to buy large amounts of distilled water, an exercise which was not cost effective.
To deal with the high cost, Khobotlo had to devise alternative ways of testing soil without using distilled water.
And that is how his own unique distillation system was born.
He says while reading on the internet, he realised he could analyse soil using red cabbage juice.
And thanks to that simple juice, Khobotlo can now successfully analyse the soil pH helping scores of farmers in rural villages.

Khobotlo is among 44 Basotho youths who were awarded certificates after receiving business training provided by Maluti Mountain Brewery under its flagship Kick-Start Project.
The project is being handled in collaboration with UNESCO under its Student Training for Entrepreneurship Promotion (STEP) and the Ministry of Sports and Youth.
Kick-Start is a programme run by the MMB that seeks to assist youths between the ages of 18 and 35 with grants of up to M100 000 to start and enhance their own businesses.
The project is intended to address the issue of unemployment in Lesotho.
To date, 16 youth companies have been assisted with funding.
Under the programme, youths receive one-year mentorship by an expert in business management. The project, which began in 2014, is now in its third round.
The third round was launched in June this year and 673 applications were received from across the country.

The youths were from 41 companies.
The course started on October 17 and ended on November 2.
The MMB Managing Director Mopati Mpedi said under the programme they are building small home-based businesses that allow self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on big firms and government for employment.

“This is our contribution to sustainable employment creation. Kick-Start falls under the growing world, where we want to contribute to the livelihoods of the communities we operate within,” Mpedi said.
The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender and Youth, ’Malerato Khoeli, said the Kick-Start applicants are being recognised for completing the students training on entrepreneurial promotion.
The two-week training programme offered basic training in business.
Some of the trainees are already running their own small businesses, while most of them will be starting soon.
“The course you have gone through is well packaged for all of you, I hope that it has opened your eyes enough to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit that you all have,” Khoeli said.
Youth unemployment is not only a critical concern for the Ministry of Gender and Youth but for the government as a whole, she said.

“It is imperative to the government of Lesotho to leverage the talent and energy of its youth to create dramatically higher levels of prosperity and equality and address the latent risks of unemployment and social instability,” she said.
Khoeli said it is good that the private sector is helping the government by creating jobs.
“The government will not achieve much without the support of the private sector in the country,” Khoeli said.

“I therefore would like to applaud MMB, as one of the private sector organisations that contributes to the promotion of the development of youth entrepreneurship,” she said.
“I am gratified to also learn that this year there has been a great improvement in attracting youths from other districts of the country,” she said.
“My dream is to see all youths from around the country thinking about what businesses they can get into to improve their economic status,” Khoeli said.

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