Thousands of youth, graduates from various tertiary institutions annually leave school ready to enter the job market, but due to the sluggish economy, thousands of them remain unemployed.
The only sustainable option for survival is starting businesses which mostly fail due to lack of funds, for Puleng Maliehe’s tenacity to success sets her above the norm.
Living in Ha-Leqele, a village outside the city centre, Maliehe holds a certificate in Business Management attained from International Business College.
When pursuing her diploma qualifications, she fell pregnant and got married thus dropping out of school.
That setback coupled with the high unemployment rate of Lesotho didn’t stop her from searching for her god given talent when she started a crafts business last year.
She designs, redesigns shoes and covers them with the Seshoeshoe fabric among some of her unique creations.
“I have always loved African jewellery, so I decided to make my own. Before I knew it, it really got exciting for me. I then saw it as an opportunity to capitalise on,” she said.
She then opted to learn what other similar businesses are doing to improve their products from around the world.
“I used the internet to better myself. I watched videos on YouTube on how to make crafted jewellery and I goggled more designs. Some designs I just make as I go and most are created from what I already have,” Maliehe explained.
She added: “I sell flip-flop shoes that are covered with Seshoeshoe and African Print fabric cloth. I also make African print earrings and Seshoeshoe earrings.
“At the moment I am not employed. With the little that I make, I am able to provide for my family,” she said.
Maliehe said although her business is doing relatively well, it is hard to get some of the material from within the country, forcing her to import material.
“It is very hard to get shoes and earrings I use as my raw material in the country. I have to go to Johannesburg to buy most of my stock, an exercise which was very expensive for me. I have to pay for transport and clearing.
I then decided to work with what I can get from within the country to reduce costs.”
She noted that the support from Basotho has been amazing and impactful to the growth of her business.
“I get a lot of compliments which is always good. They buy my crafts regardless of the price. I work from home and I also sell my crafts at the Nala Markets, to reach my clients,” she said.
Maliehe also noted that she advertises her business on different social media platforms including Facebook and WhatsApp.
“I would love to open a shop where I will be able to sell my crafts and stop selling from home. I would also love to make jewellery for our local celebrities and to see everyone wearing my products,” Maliehe said.