Driving inclusion

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 23 September 2020   |   By Ricardo Kanono
Charlotte Mathula Head of Financial Inclusion, Letshego Botswana Charlotte Mathula Head of Financial Inclusion, Letshego Botswana

Ending up in the financial space came as a destiny for Charlotte Mathula; the Head of Financial Inclusion at Letshego Botswana. She is now creating opportunities for those left out by financial institutions    

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Please take us inside your professional journey – where did it all start?

MATHULA: My first job out of varsity was at First National Bank Botswana as a Temporary Assistant. After that, I joined Botswana Building Society (BBS) as a graduate trainee, and was later appointed as a Branch Manager. I then joined Standard Chartered Bank where I held several management positions including those of Customer Services and Sales Manager, Head of Sales Channels SME, Product Development Manager Secured Lending, Africa Regional Head for Home Loans and Car Loans and Head of Retail Lending for Botswana. Prior to joining Letshego, I worked for FNBB as Head of Home Loans and Retail Lending.  I am currently the Head of Financial Inclusion for Letshego Financial Services Botswana.

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What are your qualifications? 

MATHULA: I hold an MBA, Associate Diploma in Banking, Certificate of Proficiency in Short and Long Term Insurance, a Certificate in Property Development and Investment, Certificate in Business Management Development in Digital Strategy, Fintech Law & Policy and Digital Competition in Financial Services. I am currently reading to become a Certified Financial Planner through Milpark Business School.

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What influenced your decision to pursue this career?

MATHULA: Destiny. I had missed my opportunity for a sponsorship to study abroad. I then enrolled at the University of Botswana for a degree in Business Management, which helped to open many doors for me in the financial services industry.

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Your career highs and lows

MATHULA: I am proud to work for Letshego, an indigenous company that has grown in leaps and bounds, with presence in 11 African countries. My other accomplishments include my appointment as Branch Manager at the tender age of 25 years. The other was being identified among the Top 10 Talent in Africa, which ultimately led to my appointment at the Global Product Group Team in a regional role based in Kenya and responsible for 8 markets in the region.  I have had very few low points as I have always embraced my opportunities.

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Discuss Letshego Botswana and your core mandate of ensuring financial inclusion?

MATHULA: My role at Letshego Botswana is to provide strategic direction and to identify business growth opportunities as well as cost effective channels for our customers. Financial inclusion is about providing relevant and accessible financial solutions and support to small businesses and individuals who have traditionally struggled to access formal financial services. Our aim is to provide the right solutions, through easily accessible channels, to help to improve lives for our customers and communities

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Is your vast experience in the retail banking space helping you to achieve your mandate?

MATHULA: I am now able to easily identify the financing gaps that exist in the market and particularly those that are valued by Batswana, some of who fall out of scope of existing stringent banking requirements. My experience in product development allows me to apply the right expertise to enhance Letshego’s Customer Value Propositions. 

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What are the new offerings that you have initiated since you took over your position?

MATHULA: We are doing exciting things at Letshego, especially in the Micro and Small Business space and will soon be rolling out a suite of value solutions for our MSE customers. We have implemented a robust digital transformation strategy that is driven by customer experience and access through our new and enhanced digital platforms. Last year we launched our Mobile App for use by our Direct Sales Agents, that has revolutionised our turnaround times. We now have online application Webforms, where individual customers and businesses can apply for loans at any time and from anywhere, by visiting htps://appforms.letshego.com and a  USSD loan lead platform *184#. We have exciting developments in store and I invite you to watch this space over the next couple of months as we continue to deliver on our brand promise to improve lives for Batswana.

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Are you winning in keeping impairment costs low?

MATHULA: Fortunately, we have a robust collection methodology in place. Despite that, the job market has recently been turbulent and obviously, this affects some customers’ ability to repay. We see an increase in requests to provide repayment holidays and restructure facilities, especially during these challenging time brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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What policies or programmes do you have in place to ensure the advancement of women in your organisation?

MATHULA: As Letshego Botswana adopts an inclusive approach in extending the reach of its financial solutions to all communities, so do we adopt the same inclusive approach within our internal Letshego culture, providing all employees with equal and accessible opportunities to develop themselves, grow and achieve their individual and collective goals. This balance is evidenced with 53% of our Botswana management team being women.            

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How did you cope with the challenges that women often endure in their way to the top?

MATHULA: Being a woman in leadership is not easy. Finding ways to network with women who hold positions of influence helps. Fortunately, I have worked with men who are fair and supportive, where we grew a mutual and professional respect.

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Your word to the girl-child who wants to excel in her vocation and grow into a leader – the dos and don’ts!

MATHULA: Anything is possible with hard work. Never stop being curious, never stop learning. Your background and gender should not act as a barrier but rather a source of motivation and diversity. Always believe in yourself, even when no one else does. Know that you can get ahead without compromising your values. Hard work pays off and eventually, talent always finds a home.

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How do you spend your time away from work?

MATHULA: I get bored easily so I dabble in any and everything. I was once a certified Zumba Instructor, before then I took up Fencing, but that was years ago.  I am a mountain bike enthusiast and ride whenever I find time. I also quadbike for fun. For now, studying takes up much of my time. 

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Favourite book & the one you are currently reading.

MATHULA: I enjoyed Robin Sharma’s Little Black Book for Stunning Success. I am currently reading John C Maxwell’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. When I am pressed for time, I find that motivational podcasts really help to set the tone for the day.

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Your favourite holiday destination

MATHULA: Being from Maun, the Okavango Delta is my backyard. Sadly, I have not frequented it as much as I would like. Outside Botswana, it is an unbreakable tie between Durban and Dubai. I love hot and wet climates.

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Your Mentor?

MATHULA: I have two, Mrs Neo Bogatsu, the CEO at BIFM, who helps me navigate the corporate world. Ms Bonang Kwape, HR Director at FNBB who often assists me with relationship building and networking. These women provide me with strong guidance and support needed to be my best self.

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Family

MATHULA: I am from a small family and the eldest grandchild in the Mathula clan. I have one younger sister.



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