The mountainous kingdom of Lesotho has the potential to boost its economy and its citizens through SMMEs, according to veteran broadcast journalist Nthakoana Ngatane. Ngatane is the brains behind Aha Lesotho, a new TV programme that seeks to highlight the untapped potential of the country by telling the stories of its potential and the successes of both small and large enterprises.
In an interview with Vutivi News, Ngatane shared her views on the SMME sector in Lesotho. “Starting and operating a small business in Lesotho is the most difficult thing, particularly because businesses are office and online-based as opposed to going to where the people are,” she said. “What’s worse is that they do not have access to crucial tools for developing businesses, including access to finance.
“One of the key things to achieve is to ensure that there is the ease of doing business in Lesotho for SMEs, from registering a business and being tax compliant so that they not only remain as small businesses but to grow from being small to medium to large enterprises so that we don’t have small businesses perpetually remaining small,” Ngatane said.
Ngatane, who was born in Lesotho, told Vutivi News that the country’s tourism sector had great potential. “Tourism is one of the key drivers that will turn the economy around if harnessed properly, and if it is made easier for people who want to get into businesses like accommodation and tour guiding so that people who come to Lesotho can get the real experience,” she said.
While the country had the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation, the Lesotho National Development Corporation and the Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation, which were all mandated to build capacity in the country, often it was not their focus, Ngatane said. And this was a reason why Ngatane decided to launch Aha Lesotho.
“We want to tell stories that will not only say what is happening in Lesotho, but that will also inform what should happen for the country to harness its resources to educate and provide healthcare and education for its people,” she said. Also, it aimed to guide people on how to get into business, access markets as well as the capital, she said. “We want to have what we call a ‘deal room’ wherein the deal room, anyone with an idea can come in and that idea can be developed into a thought or a business.”
Like South Africa, many SMEs in Lesotho took a knock due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced young entrepreneurs to find ways of adapting to the new normal. “We saw a lot of innovation in young people who graduated and were hoping for jobs, but (they) are now resorting to baking cookies and walking from office to office, for example,” she said.
Aha Lesotho will air every Wednesday on DSTV’s channel 292 from 6 pm to 7 pm. Episodes can also be viewed on the show’s YouTube channel.