A co-operative to fund innovation – Puthalichaba

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By Nicole Tau

Tebello Tjapela, Phuthalichaba Co-operative’s Chief Executive Officer says a solution to Lesotho’s high unemployment rate is stimulation of private sector through entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives created by Basotho for Basotho.

Tjapela is a National University of Lesotho Research and Innovations Committee member, leading an initiative designed to ensure access to finance for innovations coming out of the university’s Innovations hub.

According to International Labour Organization and World Bank Group, although Lesotho’s Unemployment rate decreased to 23.50 percent in 2019 from 23.60 percent in 2018, the unemployment rate is expected to reach 24.30 percent by the end of 2020, with more than half of the country still living below the poverty line.

Lesotho remains to be one of the world’s most unequal countries.

Unemployment in Lesotho being Tjapela’s biggest concern, he believes through Phuthalichaba is an engine and catalyst that will eventually enhance the country’s economic growth.

Tjapela said as Co-operative, they adhere to the regulations and principles of the Co-operative Department housed under the Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing.

He said the co-operative is entirely member driven and owned, controlled and operated for the members’ benefits.

Phuthalichaba, according to Tjapela,in line with its Constitution is governed by the Management, Audit and Credit Committees that have been elected by the Members.

Nare Nyana Senekane is the Chairman while Vusi Mashenene is the Secretary and Doctor Makhala Khoeli the Treasurer within the Management Committee.

Tjapela told KDNews that the investment profits of the co-operative will be distributed at the end each financial year in the form of dividends with each member as a rule owning one percent share dividend.

Tjapela expressed his hopes for Phuthalichaba to promote a culture of savings in Lesotho as well as for Phuthalichaba in five years to have become a Development Bank that has invested in and assisted at least five companies in becoming large firms in industries thereby contributing to job creation and the economy on a larger scale.