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I would like to start by paying my respects to:
The Honourable Minister, Ms. Mathabiso Lepono, Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sport and recreation;
The Principal Secretary, Ntate Theko;
Government officials
ILO colleagues, from Geneva and Pretoria
Bo ‘Me le Bo Ntate,

It is my great pleasure to be here to deliver the Welcome Address on behalf of the Resident Representative of UNDP. It is indeed a pleasure to have the presence and participation of our ILO colleagues in this important workshop. ILO has been a strong partner of the joint UN project on Youth Employment as well as within the broader Delivering As One Agenda.

The Government of Lesotho has placed the creation of jobs, especially for young people, as well as the establishment of national institutional frameworks for enhancing youth employment as a national priority.

Following that, a joint UN project to support these efforts was established. Partners of this project promoting “Youth employment towards poverty reduction in Lesotho,” are the Government of Lesotho, UNDP, ILO, UNICEF, the Commonwealth Youth programme and the Mineworker’s development Agency.

The youth of Lesotho is one of her most valuable asset. In today’s globalised world, we all need to work together to ensure that youth are given all the opportunities available to work towards a better future for their country. Employment generation and enterprise development are areas of focus and promise for Lesotho.

However, the world is facing a growing youth unemployment crisis. Poverty, skills drain, scarcity of jobs and relevant trainings leads youth into and a negatively reinforcing cycle into poverty that is dangerous for countries.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set forth a global agenda to end poverty by 2015. Interventions in the areas of education, health, HIV and AIDS and employment can break the poverty cycle; without such interventions, poverty tends to take root over successive generations.

One of the priority areas of support for the UN is employment creation and strengthening of the national capacity to create employment opportunities for women, men and youth. A result of which was our Youth Employment project run in collaboration with the Ministry for Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation.

The project’s strategy was aimed at the enabling policy environment, enterprise development training and building resources and partnerships for the project. The training of trainers and trainees on enterprise development is a crucial component that the project has focused on. It is envisaged that youth of Lesotho are trained to start their own enterprises and therefore kick start the chain of successful enterprise development and job creation in Lesotho. However, we are aware, that further market linkages and partnerships should be developed to ensure sustainability and results. As such, I urge other development partners to join the UN and the Government in this initiative.

The joint UN project on YE is an example of a successful partnership between all the stakeholders in Lesotho, the Government of Lesotho, the UN partners and the local partners. The pilot project has successfully provided training to 1324 young men and women, and 266 enterprises have been established, out of which 166 were established after the provision of credit. Indeed, it is clear that such collaboration and partnerships can deliver sustainable results.

The Final evaluation of the project is nearly completed, and it is clear that the project has been able to increase/improve the livelihoods of the young men and women. This pilot joint project has been able to successfully promote youth employment in Lesotho at the levels of policy, at the community level and from the partnerships level. The Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation has recognized the results of the pilot project and its significance for the future and has requested the UNDP for a new programme to follow up from the pilot project. The outcomes and results and lessons learned of the pilot project will guide the UNDP’s response in the new programme.

The Know About Business Package training of trainers that is starting today is another integral component of enterprise development. The ILO’s KAB is a training package on entrepreneurship awareness designed for teachers and trainers who engage with young people. It aims to build the capacity of those who educate young people such as students in secondary education, trainees/students in vocational and technical training institutions and university students.

It is clear that Youth employment can be successful when a variety of strategic measures are put into place. I look forward to active involvement an integration of KAB into the YE programme. KAB offers enterprise development to be mainstreamed into the curricula of schools. It plays a crucial role in developing the minds of students and stimulating creative ideas for enterprise development.
Lesotho could benefit hugely from domestic ventures and schemes and we depend on this next generation to come up with them and carry them out. The fact that this workshop includes the formulation of the WEDGE-SA country strategy for Lesotho, is extremely important and timely as it will help further the agenda of pro-poor employment generation.

I wish you a wonderful week of active participation, learning and working towards increased enterprise development opportunities for youth in Lesotho.

Thank you.

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