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Letšeng boss backs small businesses



Lemohang Rakotsoane

MASERU – Letšeng Diamonds CEO, Mazvivamba Maharasoa, has pledged to support small, local businesses only if they are ready to provide quality services and goods at competitive prices.

Maharasoa was speaking at a business forum that discussed the problems hindering Lesotho’s economic growth on Tuesday.

She said it is important for Basotho businesspeople to genuinely collaborate in order to access bigger opportunities.

She urged them to move away from charging exorbitant prices trying to make millions with a single deal which forces potential clients to cross the border to buy the same services and goods at affordable prices.

The Letšeng Diamonds boss said if Basotho form joint-ventures even the big tenders can be broken down into what the entrepreneurs can be able to provide.

“For instance, I can divide my tender of 200 litres of petrol per week and have each business supplying with ten litres so that everyone can have a slice of the cake,” Maharasoa said.

She added that it is crucial for locals to understand that reliability plays a huge role in the efficiency of a business.

Speaking at the same forum, the Central Bank of Lesotho Governor Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane said locals seem to be greedy and are not supportive of each other.

“We tend to want to keep everything for ourselves and fail to share amongst us. It is as if one wants to eat the whole cake alone, without realising that if we share we will also be relieving ourselves of a tax burden,” Matlanyane said.

“The more businesses there are the more places the government will have to collect tax from but the fewer there are the higher the tax rates will be especially now that the SACU revenue is continuing to decline.”

Matlanyane said if producers could collaborate they would be able to supply Letšeng with 200 bags of cabbage a week as they would grow their cabbages at different times to ensure capacity and consistency for a year.

She urged Basotho to support each other and to stop being greedy. She also advised the youths not to shy away from venturing into agriculture as it is a sector with a lot of potential.

Matlanyane pleaded with producers to produce more in order to decrease the high import bill that is becoming unsustainable.

She mentioned that though the economy is faced with a lot of challenges with cohesive conversations and by supporting each other there is a lot that can be done to grow the economy.

“If we wait for someone to do something for us we might wait forever,” Matlanyane said.

She said a private sector-led economy is imperative for job creation and growth of the economy.

“We talk about a private sector-led economy but we do nothing, there is high unemployment among our youth and we need to create jobs so let us work as a team,” Matlanyane said.

Chaba Mokuku, the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification’s Project Manager, said there are several investor climate reform initiatives being taken to try and level the ground for the private sector so that it can perform to its potential.

Mokuku said the reforms are not expensive when one looks at the benefits that will be reaped after they are implemented.

He said there are several challenges facing the reforms, like lack of political will and limited contribution of relevant stakeholders.

Dr Timothy Thamae, a Chemistry and Chemical Technology senior lecturer at the National University of Lesotho, said as a country “we tend to focus on the roof first and concentrate on the foundation later and as a result we do not see growth”.

Thamae indicated that there are a lot of brilliant ideas at NUL that can be translated into viable businesses but due to lack of funding those good ideas only end up on paper.

He said research plays a very important role in coming up with innovative ideas.

“We are appealing to those who can be able to invest to help and invest,” Thamae said.

He proposed that the playfield be levelled to get support for research, incubation, infrastructure, markets and funding.

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