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Diaspora pumps in M4 billion

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MASERU – BASOTHO in the diaspora are estimated to be remitting about M336 million every month, about M4 billion a year, to their families in Lesotho.
That is according to a latest report by 2021 Finscope Consumer Survey. The survey said 60 percent of Basotho in the diaspora send money on a monthly basis to their families in Lesotho.
The research was based on a representative household survey that provides information on the demand, access, use of and behaviour towards financial services by the adult population.

According to Jabulani Khumalo of Finmark Trust, remittances have shifted from being predominantly done through family, friends, and public transport to more formal methods.
“In 2011, 52 percent remitted money through informal channels such as friends, family or public transport,” Khumalo said.
“However, in 2021, there is a significant shift as remitting through informal channels only accounts for 19 percent,” he said.
He attributed the decline in remitting through informal channels to the advent of mobile money and other non-bank facilities like Shoprite and Mukuru.

These facilities are more easily accessible and cost effective to consumers.
Banking channels though still utilized, have suffered a slight decline in usage as compared to 2011.
In 2011 banking channels, which was a combination of bank transfers and bank deposits, accounted for 46 percent of formal remittances while in 2021 banking channels only account for 25 percent.
On behalf of the Bankers Association of Lesotho, Nkau Matete, said two major events have disrupted the financial sector, the entrance of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The MNOs, he said, have presented traditional banking industry with an opportunity to gain access to consumers they would previously not have been able to access.
“When you look at it, it is a game of partnership with the MNOs because now you are able to move cash through a cellphone number which previously needed someone to have a bank account,” Matete said.
MNO, he said, presents a chance for collaborations in order to enhance consumers’ experience in the financial sector.

“What they have brought in is that we have to work with others, we have to share the risk, we have to share the experiences for the benefit of the client,” he said.
The Covid-19 pandemic, he said, also accelerated the need for banks to digitilise their services and minimise physical interaction to access services.
Boniswa Nhlapo, on behalf of mobile money issuers, said although mobile money has transformed the financial landscape, there is still more that needs to be done especially where remittances are concerned.
Nhlapo said the MNO industry was given a mammoth task to improve financial inclusion and the financial literacy landscape.

Nhlapo said they are already looking at challenges like those related to inadequate number of agents in places resulting in consumers walking for at least 30 minutes to access the services.
“We have come up with strategies to solve access challenges especially now that we are also looking into introducing more services in our product offering,” Nhlapo said.
“However, there are challenges like that of poor network access which needs to be tackled from a policy perspective. Network cable theft is rife and needs to be stopped hence the need for punitive measures on the perpetrators,” he said.

Nikki Kettles, the Executive Head of Programmes at Finnmark Trust, said they focus on financial inclusion and economic inclusivity to reduce poverty in the region by making financial services work for the poor.
Lesotho, she said, has a good story to tell where remittances are concerned as the country has the cheapest corridors in the world for cash-to-cash solutions out of South Africa.
“Data is needed to support impact and Finscope provides this much needed data to ensure the appropriate policy and regulatory issues are addressed,” Kettles said.

“The data is used to create programmes which then directly impact the most vulnerable in our countries,” she said.
The Governor of the Central Bank, Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, said the Finscope Survey identifies the drivers of, and barriers to financial access and stimulates evidence-based dialogue that will ultimately lead to effective public and private sector interventions that will increase financial inclusion.
“Since the development of the strategy we have seen the implementation of over 70 percent activities and reforms,” Dr Matlanyane said.
She mentioned the licencing of mobile money companies and the establishment of the credit bureau as some of the sector’s milestones.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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Short courses for ex-mineworkers

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THE Lesotho Diamond Academy has introduced mining short courses, particularly to ex-mineworkers, to help them re-enter the mining sector.
The Essential Introductory Courses, which will run for two weeks, will start from June this year. The courses are meant particularly for people who worked in mines in South Africa.

The Academy’s CEO, Relebohile Molefe, unveiled the new courses during the graduation of 18 students last week, four of whom are now armed with Cutting and Polishing certificates while 14 graduated with Rough Diamond Evaluation certificates.

The new courses include the Essential Certificate in Diamond Grading and the Essential Certificate in Diamond Evaluation.

“The decision to offer these courses aligns with the Academy’s dedication to bridge the gap and ensure that individuals with valuable experience can seamlessly reintegrate into the diamond and jewelry industry,” Molefe said.

“By providing short courses, the academy does not only impart essential skills but also contributes to the sector’s growth by reactivating experienced individuals who had lost access to the industry due to no formal documents showing their experience in the industry,’’ she said.

During the graduation celebration, Molefe also unveiled a new sponsorship programme for various courses.

One outstanding student previously sponsored, who demonstrated exceptional proficiency in Rough Diamond Evaluation, was granted a fully funded bursary to further his studies into Advanced Certificate in Round Diamond Brilliantering.

In pursuit of its multifaceted objectives, one of which is to serve as a catalyst for employers in the diamond and jewelry sector to devise skills development strategies, the Academy is set to sponsor four additional students in the upcoming intake starting from February 15.

Two of these bursaries will afford a 30 percent discount on overall fees for two students progressing from Cutting and Polishing to advanced studies in Rough Diamond Evaluation.

Two will be fully funded bursaries to study for a Certificate in Diamond Cutting and Polishing.

Additionally, the institution will extend two fully funded bursaries to the public, fostering inclusivity and expanding opportunities.

The Academy says it plans to announce the search for two deserving Basotho individuals on its social media pages and website.

“Importantly, the bursary programme bears no age restrictions, reflecting a commitment to fairness and inclusiveness, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of age,” it says in a statement.

The Academy says it seeks “to be a dynamic force in shaping the industry, not just within national borders, but also on regional and international platforms”.

“The emphasis on competitiveness within these markets underscores the institution’s commitment to producing graduates who are not only proficient but also globally competitive,” the statement reads.

“The recent graduation ceremony symbolises a milestone in the Academy’s journey. The success of its students is a testament to the quality of education and the foresight embedded in the curriculum.”

The Academy says its decision to sponsor further education for outstanding performers reflects a belief in nurturing talent and contributing to the continuous improvement of the diamond industry.

The Lesotho Diamond Academy was founded by the late Mpalipali Molefe, a prominent educator, diamond trader and an MP, who recognised the imperative to elevate professionalism in the diamond industry.

Staff Reporter

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Bank hands over uniforms to students

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THE Lesotho Post Bank donated uniforms to students at Leqele High School worth a staggering M60 000 as part of its Back-To-School campaign.
The bank said it did this “to keep needy children in school and to promote their education”.

A teacher at the school, Tšepo Semethe, said the uniforms will likely motivate the students to work harder in their studies.

Semethe insisted on giving the bank the names of the students so that it could check their performance at the end of the year.

“At Leqele High School, we work very hard because what we want is excellence above all. To us, hard work pays,” he said.

The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Molefi Khama, said they are getting old, they will soon retire and Lesotho Post Bank will be in the hands of these children.

He pleaded with the students to work harder.

“This is why we decided to come here to support the students in their education so that when coming to school, they should be confident,” Khama said.

“We are watching you and waiting on you,” he said.

The school’s head prefect, Tholoana Monatsi, said from now on, “no student will be identified by what they wear”.

“(Lesotho) Post Bank made us one and we thank them for that because what we wear cannot stand before our education. We indeed thank you and forever you will hold special places in our hearts,” she said.

A parent, ’Marorisang Latela, said they were very grateful for the gift from Lesotho Post Bank adding that they must also donate to other schools.

Minister of Trade, Mokethi Shelile, promised to go back to the school to discuss how the children could learn in comfortable surroundings.

Relebohile Tšepe

 

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Mamello School of Special Needs wins prize

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MAMELLO School of Special Needs is the first-place winner of Standard Lesotho Bank’s Scaled-Up Pitching Den held at Maseru Avani on Tuesday.
The school has secured a grand prize for an all-expenses-paid trip to Kenya to participate as a finalist representing Lesotho at the Standard Bank Africa Awards.

The school, pioneered in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic through Zoom classes, deals with children who live with conditions such as autism, attachment disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) dyslexia, Down syndrome and slow learners.


STKTM Solutions claimed the second-place spot, receiving a commendable M10 000, while Masia Farms secured third place and a M5 000 prize.


Pheello Masia of Masia Farms, thanked Standard Lesotho Bank for backing their vision and that of other Basotho entrepreneurs.


He acknowledged that the bank’s faith in their endeavours serves as a source of inspiration, propelling them to work harder and foster growth within the community.


The event, aimed at fortifying support and fostering regional integration for Basotho entrepreneurs across the African continent, showcased the bank’s commitment to driving the growth of Lesotho.


Malatola Phothane, Head of Enterprise Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, set the tone in his welcoming remarks.


“As Standard Lesotho Bank, through business and commercial banking, we strive to turn possibilities into opportunities,” Phothane said.


“Lesotho is our home, and we drive her growth,” he said.


His words resonated with the bank’s dedication to nurturing local talent and fostering economic development.


Phothane acknowledged the eight finalists, commending them for their resilience and passion for their businesses.


He emphasised how each entrepreneur had stood their ground, displaying knowledge and unwavering commitment.


The recognition not only highlighted the achievements of the finalists but also underscored the bank’s role in recognising and uplifting the entrepreneurial spirit within the community.


Aliciah Motšoane, founder of Prestige Furnitures and Sentebale Gap Funeral Services, played a significant role at the event as a motivational speaker, sharing her entrepreneurial journey filled with challenges and triumphs.


She recounted her humble beginnings when she was selling bread in high school, leading to the establishment of Prestige Furnitures in 1998.


Despite facing a significant setback after her shop was burnt down during the riots and incurring a loss of M5 million, Motšoane never gave up.


She said business is always a demanding endeavour adding that it needs hard work and a unique mindset.


She urged entrepreneurs to embrace their roots, seek inspiration, and persevere through challenges.


The keynote speaker, the bank’s Head of Business and Commercial Clients, Keketso Makara, said the bank is committed to foster a thriving business environment, highlighting the pivotal role of youth collaboration across diverse economic sectors.


Makara said their mandate aims to empower youths in steering the private sector towards growth, contributing to economic diversification.


Makara urged the eight finalists to actively involve bankers in refining their proposals for maximum impact on economic stimulation and sustainable development.


The bank said the Scaled-Up Pitching Den not only served as a stage for entrepreneurs to present their ventures but also acted as a driving force for networking, collaboration, and collective empowerment.

Staff Reporter

 

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