While in Botswana efforts by Letshego to roll out its banking service to its customers was dealt a blow when Bank of Botswana declined its application for a banking licence about a year ago, it would seem the company is doing well in other African countries.
Letshego Rwanda Limited (LRL) recently launched Nziza Savings Accounts and fixed deposits in Kigali and the company reports positive feedback towards the service from Rwandans.
Nziza, which is Kinyarwanda for “nice” or “joyful”, highlights the experience LRL aims to bring to customers, including those previously unbanked, through the accessibility and simplicity of its new savings account. This will be complemented with the simultaneous launch of a fixed deposit account, the aim being to support its clients’ efforts to save and to transact through a comprehensive suite of financially inclusive products.
This is the second country across Letshego Group’s operations to commence deposit-taking initiatives. The company says the success of this will position it firmly towards achieving its strategic priorities of becoming a broader based financial services group and to diversify its business in markets where it can align with and contribute to the government’s agenda of financial inclusion and skills deepening.
On Friday 10th October 2014, LRL commissioned the banking platform as ready for soft launch to staff members and at the end of that day, it is reported that over 50% of staff members had opened and funded deposit accounts.
Since inception Letshego Rwanda Limited (LRL) has been operating as a regulated credit only lending company, supporting its clients by offering innovative and competitively priced loans between RWF100,000 (US$150) and RWF37.5 million (US$55,000). It’s mostly entrepreneurial orientated clientele who borrow to fund their micro or small businesses, including for low cost housing initiatives as well as for their education and health needs.
Over the past five years, LRL has registered compounded annual growth in net customer disbursements of over 110%. From only two branches in and around Kigali city in 2009, LRL now has six branches dispersed across the country, with plans to open additional access points in rural areas in the next twelve months.
LRL was established in Rwanda in 2004 and is a subsidiary of Letshego Holdings Limited (LHL), a pan Africa financial services group that is headquartered in Gaborone. LHL was incorporated in 1998, was listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange in 2002 and today has a market capitalisation in excess of approximately US$650 million.
LRL is one of 10 subsidiaries owned by LHL that offer broad-based lending services to the consumer and micro enterprise markets across East and Southern Africa – Botswana, Lesotho, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania and Uganda. Mozambique commenced fixed deposit-taking in February 2014. LHL owns a majority stake in all its subsidiaries whilst promoting the inclusion of local minority stakeholders.
In Botswana, Letshego had its baking licence application declined by the Bank of Botswana (BoB) in 2012 for reasons, which the micro-lender says, were not explained. Though the company has not indicated any intentions of reapplying soon, they have made it clear that it wants to extend the banking service from which it is operating from.