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Letshego expands to Nigeria

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Letshego Holdings Limited, the Africa-focused micro lending and deposit-taking group has acquired a 100 percent shareholding in FBN Microfinance Bank (FBN MFB) from its parent, FBN Holdings plc.

The latest acquisition is yet another advancement, which will in the long run ensure the group is an integrated pan-African financial group, which controls a sizeable share of the market.

The acquisition of FBN MFB marks Letshego’s entry into West Africa, having successfully built a footprint across East and Southern Africa with 265,000 customers across nine countries.

This development brings Letshego’s footprint to ten countries, with a customer base of over 385,000; Nigeria, in particular, has been a key target market in Letshego’s diversification plans. “As the leading indigenous BSE-company by market capitalisation and profitability, it is an exciting time for us at Letshego.

This opportunity to enter the Nigerian market coincides with the expansion of our range of financially inclusive products and services,” said Letshego’s Managing Director, Chris Low. FBN MFB was established in 2009 and is one of only six microfinance banks in Nigeria to have been awarded a national microfinance banking licence.

Currently, FBN MFB has 28 branches and over 300 team members. Its core business is lending, savings and transactional financial services to micro and small enterprises (MSEs).

With over 80,000 depositors and over 10,000 MSE borrowing customers, the bank’s operations are directly aligned to Letshego’s financial inclusion agenda. Letshego brings its expertise in payroll deduction lending in the public and private sector as well as in micro and small enterprises, with a focus on agriculture, education and health sectors.  FBN MFB will rebrand to Letshego MFB.

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SMEs benefit from Consumer Fair growth

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The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has applauded Botswana Consumer Fair’s continued efforts to improve small to medium enterprises’ linkages.

BITC Chief Executive Officer, Keletsositse Olebile, when opening the fair, said the event has provided interactive forum for both local and foreign exhibitors. He said the shopping show has enabled manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to market their products directly to consumers, an alignment to government’s endeavors.

“As part of government intention, we continually encourage local sourcing by retailers and distributors,” said Olebile who is just few months into his new post. He further celebrated the growth of Botswana Consumer Fair over the years, attributing the expansion to quality of goods displayed at the previous shows.“Improved quality and increased variety of wares increases the interest of the visitors and makes them look forward to returning the following year,” said Olebile.

This year’s exhibitors at the 13th event still running under the banner: ‘It is more than just shopping’ have been drawn from Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, India, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Consumer Fair is a flagship event for Fairgrounds Holdings and provides a platform for small medium enterprises (SMEs) from the different sectors of the economy to showcase and promote their products and services. In addition, the SMEs are expected to establish long term business linkages and promote local manufactured goods.Fairgrounds Holdings is already optimistic that the Fair immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through supporting SMEs.

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‘Involve SMMEs in standards development’-Minister

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo appealed to Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to include the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) when developing the standards to improve the sector.

She said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has identified three areas of focus going forward which are modeled on SMME development, investment promotion and export development apexes. “I would like to implore you to include this sector in standards development processes and assist in improving SMMEs conformity to standards and compliance to technical regulations,” said Kenewendo.

Speaking during the BOBS Technical Committee Members appreciation ceremony on Thursday, Kenewendo explained that the important roles of standards are underpinned by the aspirations and intentions espoused in both diversified export led economic growth and job creation as priority areas. “It goes without saying that the diversification of the economy requires a National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework that promote competitiveness of Botswana goods and services.”

She also emphasized that an effective National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework are essential as they provide crucial links to global trade, market access and export competitiveness through their contribution to consumer confidence in product safety, quality and the environment.Since inception in 1997 BOBS has published more than 1700 standards through 48 technical committees across several sectors of the economy; 109 certification licences have been issued against some of these standards. Currently 46 Botswana Standards are being implemented through the standards regulations with a view to protecting the health and safety of consumers as well as protection of the environment.

On her note, BOBS Vice Chairperson of the Standards Council, Professor Edward Dintwa said standards are powerful tools for helping organisations that implement them to realize their potential, have access and compete in the global marketplace. “In this highly competitive and complex world, issues of sustainability and productivity, viewed from economic, environmental and societal perspectives require that businesses must be more efficient in their operations, which can be achieved through the implementation of standards”.

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