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H.E. Ambassador Dr. Sun Xianghua's Remarks at the Award Giving Ceremony for Young Entrepreneurs
2018/06/21

May I start by paying my respect to H.M.King Letsie III, and the Right Honorable Prime Motsoahae Thabane,

Your Honorable Lesego Makgothi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations

Your Honorable Motlohi Maliehe, Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture

Your Honorable Mahala Molapo, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security

Your Honorable RethabileMarumo, Depouty Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation

Distinguished guests,

Friends from the media

Ladies and gentlemen

 

A very warm welcome to you all to the Awarding Ceremony for Young Basotho Entrepreneurs by the Chinese Embassy! This is the first time that this Embassy is organizing an event of such nature. Six small and micro enterprise owners from the private sector of Lesotho will be the winners of this Award. The number of the winners and the Award itself may seem humble, but I believe this initiative is of important practical significance and will have a long time influence in Lesotho.

 

As we all are aware, the small and micro enterprises are the backbone of a country's economy across the world. According to a World Bank Group report in 2016, the small and medium enterprises provide more than 50% of all formal jobs worldwide, they spur economic development, help alleviate poverty, and address the income distribution issues. The African Union also pointed out that "in a globally changing landscape characterized by continuous structural changes and enhanced competitive pressures, the role of SMEs has become even more important as providers of employment opportunities and key players in the wellbeing of local, national and regional communities. For decades, the capacity and productivity of SMEs in most African countries has remained very low. This is due mainly to the inadequate public support to the sector." In China, the contribution to China's GDP by the small and micro enterprises accounts for 65%. They contribute more than 50% of the tax income of China, 68% of its export, and absorb 75% of its workforce. More importantly, the small and micro enterprises' contribution to innovation and technology improvement stand at 65% and 80% respectively.

 

In Lesotho, according to the Statistics Bureau of Lesotho, there are roughly 15900 registered businesses in Lesotho, among which 75% are micro and small businesses. Again, according to the National Strategic Development Plan, the estimated number of employment provided by the micro, small and medium enterprises stands at 300,000, including those in the informal sector and subsistence agriculture. They have great potential to contribute to Lesotho's economic growth, employment creation and poverty alleviation. On the other hand, the small and micro enterprises are also faced with some outstanding challenges, namely, the technical and management skills, access to appropriate infrastructure, limited access to finance, markets and information.

 

Bearing the above-said facts in mind, this Embassy decided to come up with a incentive program targeting the small and micro enterprises in Lesotho. While designing this program, we also attach special attention to the youth who are running these enterprises. The rationale behind it is because we strongly believe that the youth are the most innovative and enterprising among our population. They are also most seriously affected by the scourge of unemployment. At the Pan-African Youth Empowerment Conference held by African Union Commission in August last year, Africa and the international community were called upon to provide an opportunity for young people to explore opportunities for job creation, entrepreneurship and self-reliance, and for them to be effective contributors to their communities and national development, as well as to be competitive at the global level. Therefore, this Embassy's very first Award of Youth Entrepreneurship came into being.

 

With the above said, I shall emphasize that the purpose of this Award is not only to provide some financial support to some promising small and micro enterprises owned and run by youth, but also to call upon all of us from different walks of life to contribute to the continuous growth of such enterprises of Lesotho, so that they can become a forceful driver of Lesotho's social and economic development. It's my strong belief that through our joint efforts both from home and abroad, the small and micro enterprises in Lesotho will increasingly provide more jobs, bring in more tax incomes, create more exports, and even ameliorate Lesotho's international trade balance.

 

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, in less than 3 months time, the Beijing Summit of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation will be held in China. This Summit will give special attention to enhancing Africa's self-reliant development capability and come up with a number of corresponding measures and policies. The private sector, especially the small and micro enterprises in Africa will be a key player in implementing all these measures and policies. In this process, their self-reliant capability of development will be greatly improved. This Embassy will work tirelessly with the corresponding Ministries of Lesotho to make sure the small and micro enterprise of Lesotho benefit from China-Africa cooperation under the framework of FOCAC.

 

Dear friends, before I conclude my remarks, I must say that the enterprises of this Embassy's first Award of Youth Entrepreneurship may really seem "small" or "micro", but they have great potential. It's exactly because they are small or micro today, so that they can grow big or huge tomorrow. I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate them all for winning this Award today. And I would also like to wish them great success tomorrow.

 

Thank you all!

Khotso, Pula, Nala!

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