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LNDC backs small businesses




MASERU – THE Domestic Investment Manager at the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), SemetheRaleche, says it is high time they build smaller factory shells for small Basotho firms.

Raleche was speaking in an interview with thepost after Youth Minister MathibeliMokhothu toured the Johane Garments Manufacturers to inspect the company’s progress after it received sewing machines last October.

Mokhothu visited the company on Monday.

Raleche said the need to build smaller factory shells for small firms springs from realising that “we do not have proper infrastructure for them yet”.

“Most of our factory shells are 1000 square metres and small firms only need about 500 square metres,” Raleche said.

“However we are working hard and hopefully our aim to build them 500square metre shells will materialise in the coming financial year.”

Raleche added that access to finance is still an obstacle because “when they have received big orders they are unable to take them because they do not have the working capital”.

“These two issues are a priority for us,”Raleche said.

Mokhothu’s visit came a year after Johane Garments Manufacturers received a donation of 30 machines in October last year so that they could improve efficiency and meet demand.

Johane Garments Manufacturers is a textile manufacturing company specialising in work wear and safety gear in Maseru.

TšepoJohane,the Managing Director of Johane Garments Manufactures, said although it has not been an easy journey to get to where they are today, they have been able to achieve several things.

“The minister was amazed at the quality of products that we produce but most of all he was surprised that the equipment is still in good condition,” Johane said.

He said since they received the sewing machines they were able to hire 10 more people, thus improving their capacity to better serve their clients without compromising quality.

“We have been able to work hard and move forward for it is far where we are going, we are only at the beginning of our journey hence it is very iraleche-2mportant for us to produce quality products and ensure that all the assistance we have is used accordingly,”Johane said.

Johane Garments Manufacturers is already attracting international buyers after the LNDC introduced it to Africa’s biggest trade exhibition, Source Africa, in June this year.

Johane said “it is all because of the quality of our products” that the company managed to hook up with a big security company in South Africa for the supply of work clothing.

“We are grateful to the Lesotho National Development Corporation that believed in us enough to see us worthy enough to attend that event,”Johane said.

He said so far the local companies have given them huge support.

“So far we have worked with Lesotho Flour Mills, Nthane Brothers and Maseru City Council to name but a few,” Johane said.

“These are part of companies who have believed in us and have decided to work with us,”he said.

He indicated that although they are growing from strength to strength there are still some challenges.

“For instance, we do not have any space left (in our workshop) we cannot accommodate new machines or workers. Our main challenge at the moment is the issue of space, especially for storage,”Johane said.

He saidthe company does not have enough space that can allow them to buy a lot of raw materials so that when the low season comes they will have enough material to use while waiting for their peak season to come.

Johane thanked the Ministry of Youth for assisting them and believing in them.

“We did not only receive help in terms of machines but also in terms of personnel to help us with skills such as accounting, which we do not have and that personnel is being paid by the ministry.For that we are grateful,” he said.

He urgedthe youths not to be discouraged by starting small because as long as they know what they want and work for it they will get there.

“Embrace your struggles, the tears, sweat, disappointments and the failures,” he said, adding:“Build endurance and as long as you want something work hard enough so that all things will inevitably work in your favour.”

“Start small but aim high,”Johane said.

He added that youths in the country should come together and use their various skills to earn a living and let the government help them when they are already in motion.

“It is only through entrepreneurship that our country can get out of the unemployment crisis and we need all stakeholders to partake in that process,”Johane said.

Mokhothu indicated that he was pleased to see that within a year the company had grown so much.

What made Mokhothu happy was the fact that Johane Garments Manufacturers had increased its staff complement and that its equipment was still in good condition.

Mokhothusaid he wants to see Johane Garments Manufacturers’ products penetrating the American, European and Asian markets instead of just being destined to the local region.

Raleche said it is encouraging to see that some initiatives taken by the corporation are finally yielding results.

“It is a very good progress especially when we see young Basotho-owned businesses gaining momentum. It shows that we have potential,”Raleche said.

He said as LNDC they take big and small enterprises to Source Africa to help them identify markets from which to access raw materials suppliers and buyers.

“We are aware that Johane Garments were able to identify a raw materials supplier and also to secure a buyer. This helps them build their footprint in the textile industry and helps them provide timely quality products,”he said.

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