Botswana domiciled Letshego Holdings Limited says it wants to be a leading inclusive finance group in the continent as it celebrates 18 years since starting operations. The group already operates subsidiaries in many cities across Africa.
Group Managing Director, Chris Low said they have developed a strong business platform that will enable them to deliver on this intent and yet there are many challenges ahead and fast changing world from a technology perspective that ‘we have yet to fully adopt.’
“Success will come through our people and will require growth, an approach to diversity and a commitment to improving lives,” said Low.
Letshego started in 1998, when the vision to improve the lives of the under-served government employee sector across Botswana was born, with the establishment of a small team of 30 professionals in Gaborone issuing loans of up to P1, 000. A few years later in 2002 the company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE), following which it attained our International Financial Services Centre accreditation.
It is now Botswana’s largest indigenous company on the BSE by market capitalisation (in excess of US$600 million) and profitability (in excess of US$52 million profit before tax for the interim period to June 2015) and ranks among the top 40 market value sub-Saharan Africa companies (excluding South Africa).
The group has lending and deposit-taking subsidiaries across ten countries in East, Southern and West Africa – Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania and Uganda. The group has grown customer advances book to the value of some P6.5 billion as of December 2015 and for the first time in its history, it exceeded a profit before tax of P1 billion last year.
Low said they have continued to diversify their accessibility for customers and now hold deposit-taking licences in four and half markets including Mozambique Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania, with Namibia likely to be confirmed shortly.
“We were awarded MasterCard principle issuer status in Mozambique early in 2016, providing a platform for card-based services, as well as mobile, internet and agency banking. These will complement existing channels in these countries,” he said.
“We remain committed to enhancing financial inclusion through helping the rural and under-served populations in every country we do business in – this is especially so when it comes to gaining access to financing for education, health, housing and business as this will drive measurable economic development over time.”
Letshego was recently recognised for its journey of improving lives and commitment to financial inclusion when it became the first African private sector organisation to be admitted to partnership of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion. This is a global network of over 100 financial Government and Regulator policymakers from developing and emerging countries working together to identify and address areas that increase levels financial inclusion.
“This partnership is already allowing us to advocate for financial inclusion policy reform and technical as well as regulatory innovation across sub-Saharan Africa,” added Low. Finance minister, Kenneth Matambo said human capital development remains a high priority for the Botswana Government in order to achieve greater citizen economic empowerment, as well as social and economic development.
He praised Letshego for introducing Financial Literacy Programmes, which are aligned with the government Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy.
“I take much pride in seeing corporate organisations such as Letshego, are intent on meeting our Ministry half way,” Matambo said. “By your continued efforts to uphold responsible and accessible financial lending practices in your service delivery, your efforts have contributed significantly to the economy of Botswana and to the upliftment of under-served fellow Batswana”.