The Lesotho of my dreams

By Mantsebeng Maepe: 2018 Writing Challenge 3rd Prize Winner

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“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” said a wise man. What is the future of entrepreneurship in Lesotho? It belongs to the dreamers, innovators, game changers and radical revolutionaries who do not subscribe to the status quo.

The ones who believe in a hybrid system of entrepreneurship; where business and social impact converge into one. This is the future of entrepreneurship.

Ranked among the least developed nations, the poverty-stricken nation and labelled unsavoury names that leave a bitter taste in my mouth, the Lesotho I envision is an opposite of all these. Mama Lesotho is alive with possibility, developed and rich with wealth and fortune.

In the new Lesotho, there is access to health care system, poverty and hunger eradication, access to quality education, sustainable development and unemployment is but a thing of the past. And how did she achieve all this? Through private sector development which is the engine of economic growth and development.

The future of entrepreneurship lies with social entrepreneurs. In order to overcome the social and economic challenges faced by Lesotho, we need social entrepreneurs to act as catalysts and economic enablers to achieve development for all. No more are we interested in entrepreneurs who are only profit-based, without spill over effects in society; no more are we endorsing only a few percentage of the rich who hold the World’s wealth but are advocating for a radical approach.

The future of entrepreneurship lies with game changers, innovators, activists who see opportunity where there is none. As Bill Drayton once said, “Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”

Social entrepreneurs will not rest until they have revolutionized Africa and made it into the great nation it once was. Social entrepreneurs can be instrumental in solving some of Lesotho’s biggest social ills such as Hunger, Poverty and youth unemployment. This will be achieved by employing skills and strategies of a business to innovatively and sustainably solve the social, environmental and economic problems.

No longer are we motivated by the financial rewards, but through social enterprises we can all collectively work towards having a better Africa for all. To solve poverty, financial inclusiveness is pivotal. Social entrepreneurs like Mohammed Yunus achieved what was seen as impossible, high risk and foolish, by aspiring to create a world where the income distribution gap was closed.

Through his micro-financing Grameen Bank, he was able to provide loans to desolate, poverty stricken women who the banks deemed as high risk. He had the last laugh as not only did the women pay back the loans but today the Bank is a 5 billion dollar social enterprise.

In a country where poverty and hunger run rampage, having a financially inclusive enterprise would work towards eradicating hunger and poverty. Through the small loans, Basotho youths and women would finance their Small Micro Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) into thriving businesses that could generate jobs for the economy.

Some of the radical innovations are addressing health care systems and ensuring that even the remotest villages in Africa have access to health care. This is already being done in Mozambique through Village Reach. Another ground-breaking revolution that uses technology to solve health care needs is Zipline. This social enterprise utilises drones to deliver vaccines, medicine and blood for transfusion in rural Rwanda.

Lesotho, with its inaccessible terrain in some highlands would benefit greatly from having such technology utilised. It would finally be free of poor health systems and ensure health access for all, if we have more enterprises that tackle poor healthcare systems.

I have a dream, a dream whereby young girls in Lesotho, living in destitute and poor areas do not miss school because of lack of sanitary towels. I believe in the power of women and young girls in playing a role in transforming the economic welfare of the nation and contributing to the GDP of the economy.

With social enterprises like Myna Mahila Foundation, comprising of a network of female entrepreneurs who produce and sell low cost, high quality sanitary pads for women in the slum communities of Mumbai, India. This solves the high rates of school drop outs by girls, absence leaves taken by girls each month and ensures they receive quality education like their male counterparts. This initiative would solve the high unemployment rate while also closing the gender gap among males and females.

Environmental social entrepreneurs are the heroes of our world, they work to combat climate change and save our nation. Through social initiatives like that of Ursula Sladek, who is pioneering a green energy movement in Germany whereby citizens own and run their own energy production, Lesotho’s adoption of such would help in combating climate change. Not only does this help to ensure a safe and clean environment for all, but also works in reducing the income inequality since the venture disrupted the pricing and policy monopoly of large companies.

This, in a way, works towards addressing the income inequality gaps in the world. With recent statistics indicating that 42 people hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion who make up the poorest half of the world’s population. The future of entrepreneurship works towards solving this gap in the market.

The future of entrepreneurship promises to help solve the issue of quality education for all. Educational social entrepreneurs are dreamers who see opportunity where there is none; see light in the midst of the dark. With the ever so increasing street kids in Lesotho, who are often left to their own devices, it would be instrumental to have a social enterprise like that Streetwise by entrepreneur Arnand Raskin.

The enterprise consists of mobile schools, which teach children on the streets various subjects. Imagine Lesotho with millions of Streetwise schools? How many of our street kids would be empowered to be the next CEOs of companies? It is the adoption of such unconventional method of education that defies the norm, where we can truly develop as a country, when we embrace innovation and inclusion of all.

The future is without a doubt social entrepreneurship! Lesotho can rise to great heights with more social entrepreneurs around the continent. Not only will we manage to succeed in tackling the sustainable development goals, but we will triumph over them. Social entrepreneurship has spill over effects that nurture social cohesion and build nations.

The African adage says, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” Together we march in solidarity to the Lesotho of our dreams!

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