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When the lionesses of Africa roar!



MASERU – Thinking outside the box. That has been the key to success over the years for ’Matokelo Seturumane, the Managing Director of Thaba-Bosiu Risks Solutions.
From a mere claims clerk, Seturumane is now in charge of one of the biggest insurance brokers in Lesotho.

“I had no idea about insurance broking but I learned the job while working there, climbed the ladder and was appointed a director of the company,” Seturumane says.
She was the only woman serving in the company’s board.

Seturumane says she dislikes the phrase ‘woman empowerment’ because it suggests that women are powerless hence the need to give them power.
Women are powerful, she argues.
But for them to be effective, they must think out of the box.

She urges women in business to be focused and persistent.
“Believe in yourselves and everything will fall into place,” Seturumane says.
Seturumane was speaking at the second Lioness of Africa Lean-In Campaign, a continent-wide programme that targets women entrepreneurs.
The programme brings together women in key cities to listen to successful women business brand builders, share their stories, to inspire one another, and to network and connect for business success.

The head of Personal and Business Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, Selloane Tsike, says the bank had set aside M1.9 million to boost businesses owned and run by women.
Tsike says the idea is to get women out of the gorge of poverty and enable them to start businesses.
“The initiative is meant to inspire young women and those that are aspiring to be entrepreneurs,” Tsike says.
“The Lioness of Africa was launched (in Lesotho) last year to create economic empowerment,” she says.

Tsike says the bank realised that for women to contribute to the growth of the economy, they need support.
She says the bank wants to give women a platform to share the challenges they have while they build each other.
“The bank says Africa is our home and (these women) drive its growth,” she says.

Tsike urged the women to connect with each other, share business ideas and experiences with the motive to build big businesses that will be all over Africa or maybe worldwide.
The initiative is one of investing in women of Lesotho, she says.
The Chief Executive Officer of Lioness of Africa, Melanie Hawken, says she has been an entrepreneur for the past 35 years and has learnt that access to markets is one of the challenges faced by women across the continent.

Several prominent but small businesswomen managers told stories of their successes and the challenges they passed when they started businesses.
A former principal secretary, ’Malerato Khoeli, who is now running the Riverside Fresh Farm Produce, says she quit the civil service to start a business after she realised the future lay in agriculture.

Khoeli started a small agricultural business in 2014 while she was still a civil servant.
“There is a market and there has always been. Now my business has grown seven times bigger,” Khoeli says.
“I have employed 10 people and this means I am making a difference in the economy,” she says.

She says her dream is to grow bigger and be able to supply the whole of Lesotho with pork, chicken and eggs.
Over the last four year she has worked on the project without any salary, paying workers only, until this year when she started paying herself.
The Technical Director of TP Technologies and Co-Founder, Baile Seakhoa, says it is gratifying to notice that women are slowly being recognised in the country.
Unlike other women, she decided to do something that most women find challenging – Information Technology.

“I did different courses abroad until I reached where I always wanted. I came back into the country when it was led by the military regime. There was peace then,” Seakhoa says.
Seakhoa applied for a job and gained experience at Telecom Lesotho.
She also tried many other business ventures like poultry but her passion was always in Information Technology.

While working at Telecom Lesotho, she formed TP Technologies which has been running for six years now.
She says her “vision was to see Lesotho advancing in many ways related to ICT”.

She encouraged women to spend little time sleeping but more time working because a lot happens while they are sleeping.
A board member at Standard Lesotho Bank, ’Mannete Ramaili, says she will be very happy if one woman’s bank account is equal to those of four men.
“I learned also that money is not a problem, what is needed is technical skills and perseverance,” Ramaili says.

Tokase Mphutlane

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