United States Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Erika Lewis with rise Construction Coordinator Thato Nkikana

American Corner, State Library Maseru – The handover ceremony of a Tool Library for rise funded by the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund of the US Embassy took place today 28 July, 2022. rise has been awarded a grant in the amount of $8,061 towards the establishment of a Tool Library for entrepreneurs in the Built Environment industry. As part of rise’s mission to build an active entrepreneurship ecosystem for Basotho youth, rise plans to provide tools that young aspiring entrepreneurs can work with and help their businesses grow. Towards that end, rise plans to set up a fully-equipped tool library for entrepreneurs to improve their carpentry, joinery, and welding skills, and also utilize them on construction projects.

United States Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Erika Lewis said “In addition to efforts to strengthen the business ecosystem in Lesotho through the recently signed Millennium Challenge Corporation compact and support for expanded exports from Lesotho to the

United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the United States is committed to working hand-in-hand with the private sector, civil society, and government to drive investment in innovation and creative solutions. This grassroots project, which will build skills and opportunity, is a perfect example of what we can accomplish together.” She further expressed that she is happy to know that rise has been working to help communities in Lesotho for 5 years and looks forward to future collaborations with rise.

Looking at the world today, we see a huge mismatch between the skills young people have and the skills employers need. Without opportunities to build the right skills, millions of youth will struggle to find jobs and risk being left behind. Through the in loco program, rise helps these young Basotho to start their own businesses and become “job creators” instead of “job seekers”, thereby creating opportunities for themselves and their communities. For this to happen, these young people need resources to start.

Nkopane Sehapi, The Manager of Partial Credit Guarantee Fund (PCGF) in his speech expressed: “I would like to thank rise International for keeping their promise of assuring the position of humility, commitment, dedication, and determination to uphold and defend the interests of current and future Basotho entrepreneurs.

It has been a very crucial year for entrepreneurs to come back in full operations since the Covid19 pandemic – let alone the crop of start-ups to make breakthroughs in business. PCGF and the Ministry of Small Business, Cooperatives, and Marketing in collaboration with rise will soon launch a one of its kind model to assist graduates, businesses, and informal businesses countrywide.” 

The primary beneficiaries of this tool library are young Basotho entrepreneurs aged between 18 to 35 who are in the process of setting up their own businesses in the built environment. They are a mixture of carpenters, electrical and structural engineers, construction workers, plumbers as well as other artisans and craft workers. Some will have been through rise’s in loco fellowship program and others will be upcoming entrepreneurs wanting to set up their own businesses in the built environment in order to earn a living. The secondary beneficiaries will be vulnerable communities with whom rise partners and through the in loco fellowship designs and builds much-needed infrastructure to improve the quality of lives by solving a social need.

It is a pleasure to have been a recipient of the US Embassy Self Help Grant which has enabled us to buy 69 tools in 3 different categories; power tools; bricklaying; and carpentry tools. Through this tool library we are able to help all the pioneers who have graduated from our in loco program, as well as other

Basotho youth who have businesses in the built environment, to excel and reach their fullest potential. Our overall vision as rise is to see job seekers become job creators. The Lesotho we want is in the hands of the youth.” – Reitumetse Nthako, rise Country Director.

Pictures captured by Reitumetse Raphanyane