LESOTHO: Competitiveness and Financial Inclusion Project Launched.

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Through the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Business Development, and Tourism, the Government of Lesotho has launched a Competitiveness and Financial Inclusion Project. The event was held in Maseru on Monday and the objective is to increase access to business support services and financial products targeted at MSMEs and entrepreneurs, especially women and youth.

While launching the project, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Business Development and Tourism, Mr. Mokhethi Shelile said that the CAFI project is financed by World Bank and coordinated by his ministry, saying the Private Sector Competitiveness and Diversification Project are a true success. He also mentioned that on  Business Regulation reform the government enacted the business licensing and registration law and accompanying regulations, saying the new law provides for among others formalization of all businesses, standardization of business, classification, and introduction of a risk-based licensing regime.

Still speaking, he noted that this reform made starting a business easier by removing the requirement of a health certificate and the inception of the premises for all businesses. He emphasized that once the reforms are fully implemented, the new legal framework will significantly reduce the time cost, and procedures of starting a business in Lesotho. He also noted that the government through CAFI Project will also be investing in substantial financial resources. He, therefore, expressed gratitude to all the stakeholders for their unwavering support, but most importantly thanked World Bank.

 

The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane also spoke during the launch, appreciating all the stakeholders for putting in all the work by shaping this project. She expressed hope in government, saying the majority of the cabinet is made up of businessmen which she said is encouraging. She noted that the world is going through a global recession, noting that firms are closing due to a lack of orders, hence the government needs to diversify the business.

In the same vein, the Project Manager, Mr. Chaba Mokuku noted that the project is relevant and timely, saying it is a catalyst for the digital economy. He mentioned that the project was conceptualized during the COVID-19 outbreak to provide an enabling environment for Basotho.

He said the project’s main objective is to increase access to business support services and financial products targeted at SMEs and entrepreneurs, especially women and youth. He also noted that this objective will focus on three key components thus; enhancing the financial inclusion and resilience of MSMEs, scaling support for entrepreneurship and MSMEs, and Project management and implementation support.

The World Bank Country Director to Lesotho, Marie Francoise Marie said she is pleased with this great initiative and congratulated the government of Lesotho, saying this initiative will curb the high rate of unemployment. She added that this project comes at an opportune time after the world has been hit by COVID-19 and Russia-Ukraine war. She, therefore, called for an elaborated effort for this project to be a success.

This Project is a World Bank Financed initiative that became effective in September 2022 and will end in April 2028.

 

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