Basotho Enterprises DevelopmentCorporation(BEDCO) of Lesotho lastweek came to Gaborone for abenchmarking exercise at LocalEnterprise Authority (LEA) forSmall, Medium and Micro Enterprise(SMME) development inLesotho.BEDCO’s Chief ExecutiveOffi cer, Robert Likgang, wholed the delegation to Botswana,said they wanted to fi nd howother countries were implementingSMME development so thatthey improve their operations inLesotho. “We want to set up Memorandumof Agreements with other organsof similar nature in potential attachmentsand capacity development.
We are interested in the processes ofincubation, linkages, market access,how organisational structures are developedand areas of funding,” saidLikgang.BEDCO was established 35 yearsago as a subsidiary of Lesotho NationalDevelopment Corporation andbecame an independent organ in 1980to provide business training and alsoincubation to SMMEs.Likgang revealed that later therewas less emphasis on developingSMMEs and there was an emphasis ondrumming up Foreign Direct Investment.Through the African Growthand Opportunity Act (AGOA), Lesothobecame for many years one of thelargest exporters to the United Statesof America. Following the restructuringand establishment of both theindustrialisation and SMMEs policiesby the Lesotho government, a tripartitewas developed nine months agoto resuscitate BEDCO.
A strategic plan was then developedin identifying appropriate productsand how to use Information Technologyto ensure that it helps deliver theservices. “In that way, we have talkedto Small Enterprise DevelopmentAgency (SEDA) of South Africa andsigned a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding)to assist in developmentcapacity,” he added.While there has been training bySEDA, Likgang indicated that it isquiet important that the training is effectiveand match the level of internationalstandards. Part of the strategy isto look into mining and how BEDCOcan facilitate SMMEs in mining particularlystones.LEA CEO, Dr Tebogo Matome saidthat LEA is currently focused on thefour subsectors in Botswana, namelyleather works, horticulture, piggeryand dairy. He also highlighted thatthe problem of coordination has becomea real one. “We have recentlyengaged the Commonwealth Secretariatto look at SMMEs developmentstrategy on how the coordination ofSMMEs in Botswana should comeabout,” explained Dr Matome.
He said the challenges faced withSMMEs in Botswana are similar tothose of other countries, amongstthem lack of management skills, marketand fi nance access.He added that the organisation hashad shortfalls attributable to factorssuch as lack of adequate fi nancialresources to perform its mandate asper the Small Business Act, the slowdownin the business results of theclients and factors outside its controlsuch as bottlenecks to the developmentsof the four sub-sectors.LEA has trained over 5, 000 peoplein business planning and entrepreneurshipdevelopment since its inception.Meanwhile, the BEDCO delegationhad the opportunity to visitLEA’s Glen Valley and Gaboroneleather works incubators