Household indebtedness is on the rise, according to Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Bogolo Kenewendo. She was speaking on Monday at the launch of a financial literacy programme by Liberty Life Botswana. The initiative called Mind My Money is intended to reduce household indebtedness and also empower people to achieve wealth. According to Kenewendo, there are two factors that contribute mainly to this rise and these are living beyond one’s means and not utilising appropriate financial instruments available in order to prepare for tomorrow. She said it is therefore government priority to reduce household debt in Botswana through various interventions and partnerships such as the one by Liberty. “The 2015-2020 Financial Inclusion Roadmap outlines financial literacy as one of the key implementation priority areas to promote financial inclusiveness in Botswana,” she said. The MP said lack of understanding has been identified as a specific barrier to access by both consumers and product providers. “It goes on to highlight the scope for service providers and intermediaries to provide more information and training on their products to prospective customers especially during teachable moments, as the proportion of adults currently seeking financial advice from financial institutions and financial advisers is notably low,” said Kenewendo who is also an economist.
Kenewendo said the Mind My Money is therefore a specific intervention towards improving financial inclusion in Botswana through education and empowerment of consumers. She said the programme which will take consumers through various topics such as budgeting, saving, investments, tax, debt management and provides financial coaching will go a long way in improving the lives of Batswana across the spectrum. “It is when more people in an economy are financially literate and manage their finances prudently and efficiently, that they become a contributing partner in the economy and in building our nation,” she said adding that when finances are mismanaged people become overly indebted, unproductive, losing their jobs, unable to feed their families, sometimes on the extreme even taking their own lives - and then all those become the responsibility of government to singlehandedly provide for. Managing Director at Liberty Life Botswana Lulu Rasebotsa said the programme “is called Mind My Money simply because it is becoming very apparent that there is a need for us to do just that; Mind Our Money.” Another reason she said that it has been traditionally believed that financial planning and management happen accidentally but explained that that it is not the cased as it takes a concerted and strategic effort.