Developing and Fostering Entrepreneurial Spirit: Interview with Stephen Monyamane, Part 2

By Khothatso Kolobe

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The usual time we allocate for interviews would not let us cover all the fruitful information we were receiving. Resultantly, we had the pleasure of breaking our own rules for the greater good. Find Part 1 of the interview here! Below is the reward for our deviance.

Wow! Tell us more!

So it’s START LOCAL AND GO GLOBAL. And then it was well attended. Great! 2017 came along and we realized that, to go fast, you can go alone but to go far we go together.

Thus, we got into an agreement and partnership with BEDCO because their mandate is to develop enterprises. We were already playing in that space as well. We found synergies and decided to do the Entrepreneurship Expo together.

And how did it go?

In doing that together we then realized, versus 2016 we had 110 companies, 5 000 expo attendees, and 50 000 people reached on social media. Fast forward to 2017, 150 companies attended THuD, 10 000 attendees and 520 000 people reached on social media.

In 2018, we will be celebrating three years as TEN, three years of THuD, which is this Friday. Equally important, we will be coming into the third Entrepreneurship Expo.

How did you guys do after 2016?

The theme for 2017 was INTER-REGIONAL TRADE. We then saw people from Swaziland, Botswana, South Africa, coming and participating. We had the BEDCO equivalents of those countries at our expo, we had people from as far as Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and the US forming part of our panelists.

Okay, and what do you have in store for us this year?

So this year we are saying, yes you may want to go global, regional, but you have to be of a certain worth before you go there. We have given you tease of how the world looks like, but now let’s work within so that we are ready for the world. Therefore, the theme for this year is THE REGENERATION OF A NATION “LESOTHO”.

We talk about reforms as a country, but that’s an external thing. We see SADC trying to bring them more than them coming from within. As entrepreneurs, we are saying let’s talk about the regeneration of a nation focusing on four pillars.

The first is to identify, discover and develop your unique selling proposition as a country, community, an individual and entrepreneur. That vibranium. Looking at the demographic dividend, looking at that young age, looking at that educated group of people who we could develop. That human capital.

The second pillar is that we live in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The era of artificial intelligence, big data, internet for business and the Information Age. Lesotho in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, from a place of developers, collaborators, consumers, and innovators. We take it from that angle and say, what does this era mean for Basotho? Not as consumers but also as people who input, develop and innovate in that space.

The third pillar is to then say, how do we then systematically use the CSI (Consumer Supply Index) budget of corporates, the Market and Budget of corporates and their procurement systems and procedures to develop enterprises? Can you imagine if corporate Lesotho was to be intentional, for illustration, we have a hundred worth of money that we sold stuff from, and most of the things still come from across the border as you have realized. If corporate Lesotho can say, within reason, 75% of the products we need will be sourced locally. They can immediately and directly create jobs. How do we intentionally, systematically, deliberately and directly develop enterprises so that they are able to deliver those goods and services excellently? Simultaneously, how do we then use entrepreneurship as a bedrock for our country’s development, for national profit?

The fourth pillar, especially in the world whereby we have so many unemployed graduates, and where people are starting to make a mockery of education. How do we then demonstrate and show people the link between education and entrepreneurship? The need for education as a foundation for entrepreneurship. Because to grow business, to establish and develop corporations, you need the educated. You need finance, legal, branding, strategy, marketing, management, human resource, all that is education.

The above are the four pillars of THE REGENERATION OF A NATION.

What can you tell us about this year’s Expo?

The launch of the expo, the celebration, will be at Victory Hall whereas the expo will be held at Convention Centre. We will be celebrating milestones.

Please state them.

2016, the expo’s budget was M720 000, of which more than 50% of it was spent in Lesotho. In 2017, that budget grew to 1.67 Million Maloti.

We have been able to have about 400 SMMEs over the past couple of years. We have hosted 32 Hookup Dinners.

Ordinary People Ordinary Money Doing Extraordinary Things.

In the last three years, TEN and THuD have been able to invest 2.7 Million in the economy of Lesotho.

The above can be summarized by a simple Sesotho age old adage that goes: “Noka e tlatsetsoa ke linokana tse ling.” Which generally means great things are achieved through cooperation.

So this is basically the trickle down effect of what you do on a monthly basis that seems inconsequential until you have an eagle perspective over things and quantify the accomplishments of the past three years. 2.7 Million injected in the country’s economy.

Ordinary People with Ordinary Money Doing Extraordinary Things.

This is a movement. This is a wave. This is something that one day will help Basotho come to a place of critical thinking. We are in it for the long haul.

Where do we see ourselves in 10 years?

Imagine a place where when a young person has a brilliant idea, they can find a platform where that idea can be tested, experimented, incubated, accelerated then funded. So TEN in 10 years is a platform that will have that full ecosystem we have been talking about. An incubation, acceleration, venture capital fund and then opening up doors for market access.

Furthermore, business is not only in Maseru, is actually saying, connecting even those people in remote areas of Lesotho because every single area has its own vibranium. How do we discover that vibranium and assist it be nurtured in that area? Incubated in the area? Accelerated in that area? And then sold to the world. So that money comes from outside and circulates in Lesotho.

So in 10 years, that ecosystem that will be identifying talent, incubating that talent, accelerating that talent, funding that talent, connecting it to markets. Export, export, export. That will raise income levels for ordinary citizens and that will put control in the hands of indigenous Basotho.

Final thoughts?

My friend, in 10 years time, BUSINESS WILL MAKE GOVERNMENT!

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