Budding local tech entrepreneurs amid the pandemic

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By Nicole Tau

The emergence of COVID-19 has not only brought some businesses devastating effects but has nudged them to be innovative and persevere as budding entrepreneurs like Taeli Mofelehetsi did when he shifted from being green beans and vegetable seller to owning an online store Qiloane Market.

Globally, online shopping or e-commerce is nothing new, however in the Mountain Kingdom e-commerce is still in its early stages, a concept new to many.

As the government imposed a lockdown on businesses to mitigate the spread of the virus, local businesses had to find ways to adapt or crumble.

Mofelehetsi admits it was initially hard to penetrate the Basotho market and their reluctance to use technology to its full capacity.

“Instead of using the QR [Quick Response] code to make their purchases with their smartphones, people insisted on buying through an application they are used to using daily, the WhatsApp messenger. Nevertheless, I persevered, strategically, and I’m currently enjoying a growing business,” said Mofelehetsi.

Mfelehetsi has a website and also runs a readily available Application for users to download to their mobile phones.

However, Mofelehetsi, is not just the only one who has shifted his street grocery business to digital.

There is also upcoming riveting Gift Box service delivery by Hape Motsepe, that allows one to pick, choose and send their loved one’s crates, of variable goodies for special occasions, or not, at reasonable prices.

Currently, Motsepe said she is searching for more “Made in Lesotho” goods to fill her crates but she said that the crates themselves are already made by local carpenters.

Evidently, delivery services like the one offered by Motsepe enable people to stay safe in their homes and minimize unnecessary movements which may lead to contracting or spreading of the virus.

It is hard and challenging with travel restrictions in place, but Mofelehetsi and Motsepe believe that the digital platform could actually bring the local producers closer together.

“E-commerce is the future. We hope to soon make Qiloane Market a selling platform for all Basotho farmers and business owners. That as a result, will bring the sellers closer to buyers,” Mofelehetsi said when asked about the future of his business.

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