THE United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Lesotho has partnered with local telecommunications giant, Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) to among others support and grow women-led businesses in the country.
Sept. 16, 2022
3 min read
UNDP, Econet seal partnership to assist women entrepreneurs
UNDP acting Resident Representative, Nessie Golagai-Gould
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The two organisations confirmed their partnership through the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Monday.
Apart from revisiting and reflecting on the incredible journey between the two institutions, the MoU will add new ventures to the existing partnerships between the two, starting with support to another UNDP accelerator lab initiative, which seeks to support women businesses.
The initiative, known as “Her empire” was kick-started in May, enrolling 18 women who lead their own enterprises in different sectors.
This is the first cohort of women-led enterprises being enrolled in the initiative.
The main objective of the initiative is to ensure that women-led enterprises improve their business capacities, transforming into iconic business frameworks pioneered by women and are able to compete at the highest level of service provision, including participation in public and private procurement processes.
Among other things, ETL has pledged to support the initiative with technologies required to enable women-led enterprises to thrive in a world filled with uncertainty.
“COVID-19, devastating as it was, opened up other technological opportunities for businesses where we saw a rise in e-commerce across borders. We believe that this collaboration will assist in responding to some of the emerging issues faced by women-led small businesses while also enabling the generation of employment opportunities.
“On behalf of UNDP let me say I am very pleased to be a part of this event today where we ae going to unveil an improved MoU between UNDP and Econet. UNDP has had a long and extensive experience in supporting the government of Lesotho and Basotho communities in various initiatives across the pillars of the work we do, which is in economic growth, governance and peace building environment and climate change to accelerate the transformation of this country and the resilience in the midst of numerous development challenges, not just in country but regionally and globally as we look at climate change, and the war in Ukraine and other issues, particularly those emerging post COVID-19,” UNDP acting Resident Representative Nessie Golagai-Gould said.
UNDP has developed a new strategic plan for 2022-2025 which employs three enablers, digitalisation, strategic innovation and development finance as drivers of change.
The UN has always recognised that to achieve the agenda 2030, it cannot just be done by the government and civil society but private sector is a key partner in the transformation of the global landscape.
In Lesotho, UNDP has developed several digital solutions for government in health, community policing, and some systems to capture and analyse data to help in strategic delivery of different ministerial mandates including the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) database for the Ministry of Small Business and the waste management information system for the Ministry of Tourism.
Based on this experience, Golagai-Gould said it was imperative for UNDP to partner with private sector entities, particularly those in ICT digital telecom sectors like Econet to provide the technical support-required resources.
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“UNDP embraces the value additions that this partnership has brought and it also has been an important enabler which fits into its new strategic plan.”
For her part, ETL public relations officer, Puleng Litabe hailed the partnership, saying the UNDP needs creativity, technology and financial resources from all stakeholders in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“This is where Econet Telecom Lesotho comes in as a technology company. So in partnership with different stakeholders, different ministries from the government of Lesotho, UNDP launched numerous projects such as the one called partnerships for plastic life cycle management project that involves plastic free Wednesday. Another one is capacity building for women-led enterprises in Lesotho known as “Her Empire,” Litabe added.
Between 2019 and 2020 during the COVID-19 outbreak, UNDP accelerator lab developed two digital solutions, one for the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and another for the Ministry of Health. For both applications, Econet provided free internet to zero rating processes. The two applications were supported technically by developers from National University of Lesotho (NUL).