Sustained economic development requires the inclusion of Lesotho youth
The Youth of Africa has been a global topic in recent years. Facing issues like high education, low employment and exclusion from entrepreneurial support, it is imperative, now more than ever, for the incoming political leadership to back the rhetoric with action to ensure that youth and women’s meaningful economic participation is achieved.
Meaningful participation of any group requires a holistic and multi-stakeholder approach; for this reason, Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) Lesotho is implementing the Putting Youth and Women at the Centre Of Inclusive Economic Growth (PYWIEG) project. The project aims to increase Youth and Women-led participation in Lesotho’s Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) ecosystem in the short and long term.
We were in conversation with one of Lesotho’s pioneering youth and women-issues champion, a young person herself, DWF Lesotho Project Manager, Miss Kahisano Kolobe – unpacking the youth economic needs and enterprise opportunities in Lesotho.
Why are you passionate about youth leadership?
Young people are the majority of our population and the wealthiest resource this continent has. Much of our country’s development solutions lie dormant within young people who are not given the skills and information to help them become trailblazers and create employment with their small enterprises.
Why do you think it’s essential for young people to be included and central to economic development in Lesotho?
With youth at the centre of economic development and growth, we get to inform and direct the country’s economic activities, which for the longest time have been traditional and stuck in the old way of doing things. With the advancing of technology and how the world has become one global and digital village, it is essential to have the youth present to represent their ideologies, especially at decision-making platforms. Young people also need to understand how government systems, laws and norms work concerning the economy and small enterprises.
How can the youth be provided with skills and resources to participate better in Lesotho’s economic growth?
It starts with an enabling economic environment and policies allowing youth participation with less red tape, for instance. It would also be helpful to have subsidised fees for enterprise activities such as registering a company or accessing credit at a bank. Young people don’t have the financial means to start and maintain enterprises, so funding, mentorship, and market opportunities would go a long way. I’d like to see more young people build solid, profitable and growing enterprises.
What is your advice to Lesotho’s entrepreneurial youth interested in playing their part in economic growth?
- Collaborate, as no man is an island.
- Stay informed on government initiatives and policies around small businesses.
- Join small business groups on social media for opportunities and updates
- Participate in programmes like our recent training with CSOs and Youth and Women-led small enterprises on “HOW GOVERNMENT WORKS”, which includes a module on “Understanding Lesotho’s Entrepreneurship Landscape. “
These capacity enhancement workshops were held in Leribe, Butha Buthe and Maseru Districts.
Putting Youth And Women At The Centre Of Inclusive Economic Growth (PYWIEG) is a 3.5 years project funded by the European Union Delegation in Lesotho under the Grant titled ‘Civil Society Organisations as Actors of Governance and Development.’ It is implemented in partnership with the FIDA Lesotho in the Butha Buthe, Leribe and Maseru districts. The programme aims to increase Youth and Women-led CSOs’ participation in Lesotho’s Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) ecosystem.