Meet Lerato Mphaka
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Lerato Mphaka aged 32 is actively involved with Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) development in collaboration with government ministries. She focuses on skills development and collaborative knowledge sharing via platforms like The Hook-Up Dinner Maseru (THUD Maseru), Girls-In-ICT Day, facilitating sessions around the 2017 draft of the National Youth Policy and collaborations with an SMME called Startsmart on entrepreneur skill development. Mphaka, speaking in a wide-ranging interview with KDNews reporter Lineo Ramatlapeng, says she is an information system professional with a passion for technology’s ability to connect people and foment human effort. She holds qualifications in information systems, client-centric business strategy project management, and business systems analysis using design thinking methodology. Mphaka has 9 years IT experience in corporate Lesotho, spanning the banking, insurance and telecommunications sectors. She currently exercises her passion for Information Technology as a product pricing and client experience Manager at Nedbank Lesotho. She is also the Executive Director of the Learning Mindset Foundation and the former chairperson of the Momentum Metropolitan International (MMI) Millennial Advisory board.
KDNews: Who is Lerato Mphaka is?
Mphaka: I am a Mosotho woman, hailing from the Roma Valley. I am an avid reader, with a passion for technology and how it impacts the lives of people, especially Basotho in particular. I consider myself a patriot, with a sheer stubborn belief in the potential of a Lesotho that can be self-sustainable. I am also a Feminist, a believer in the idea of meritocracy, and the right to equity regardless of gender. I am a lifelong learner. I am always in school doing something or another. Currently, I am a student of Innovation and change and how those are best led.
KDNews: Please tell me about your learning mindsets and other initiatives your part of?
Mphaka: My brands are worlds apart but they are also a clear representation of my big passions. Take for instance The Lerato Mphaka Brand, it is about Technology and the way it shapes lives and that is how I started consulting work and public speaking. I wanted to show people that technology is pervasive and actually can change their lives if embraced actively. Then there is The Learning Mindset Foundation, which is a true reflection on my interest in education and skills acquisition. It is a brand that looks to create a bridge between the current skills we have and those we can attain in preparation for the future work demands. It is also an ode to the love I have for my peers and younger people, their ambitions, mindsets, and ideas.
KDNews: So, while juggling work at the bank who is responsible for the daily running of Learning Mindset Foundation and Lerato Mphaka brand?
Mphaka: The LM Foundation is governed by an executive board, which plays an oversight role on my duty as the Executive Director. I am then responsible for setting the strategic direction by way of expansion plans and strategic partnerships and acquiring assets. I am also responsible for the operational teams, which include operations and learner care, course facilitators, digital marketing, supplier relations. We take on a yearly basis 6 candidates whom we provide technical tools like laptops and data ahead of their experience of university life as a way of promoting the usage of technology and encourage interest in IT. These come handy during the eight months gap between completion of high school and enrolment into university. The Lerato Mphaka brand is currently under management by an amazing young lady called Liketso Ramafikeng.
KDNews: What are your goals for both brands?
Mphaka: With the LM Foundation, the goal is to continue to ensure we break even while ensuring that we sustain a high-quality experience for the cohorts enrolled in 2021. The Lerato Mphaka brand still has a number of speaking events lined up for the year and a really amazing local event I can’t openly share as yet.
KDNews: Have you experienced failures? If yes, what did you learn from them?
Mphaka: I have had failures even though the brands are relatively new. From acquisitions that didn’t work to COVID-19 disrupting initial expansion plan and partnerships. What has helped me bounce back quickly is knowing that I have to account to a group of people whose opinions I trust.
KDNews: Are you happy with the impact of your work so far?
Mphaka: There is always room for improvement, but yes, I think the brands have achieved some impact and targets have been met, which has given our team the motivation to push for more within the time left this year and the next year.
KDNews: What advice would you give to someone who has just started their own business?
Mphaka: starting is a cliché. But is important advice is that You will never have the right resources. Remain accountable, even when things go unexpectedly, create a clear schedule of deliverables and stick to those routinely. Stay curious, find out what is currently happening in your field of interest.