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Letshego issues fresh bond in South Africa

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Letshego Holdings Limited has announced that the new Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed bond notes has boosted its total debt issuance to R880 million on the JSE.

The listed micro-lender and also a financial inclusion focused group with consumer, micro lending and deposit-taking subsidiaries across Southern, East and West Africa, said in a statement that it has successfully re-financed and issued new JSE-listed bond notes, raising R655 million in addition to an existing base of R225 million, bringing Letshego’s total debt issuance on the JSE to R880 million.

“The money was raised from a number of South Africa based fixed income investors, and the ZAR bonds are part of the Group’s strategy to diversify its funding portfolio, as well as to create depth in local debt capital markets. Settlement was on 14 December 2015,” reads the statement.

Letshego, group Managing Director, Chris Low said they had initially planned to raise R500 million and it was increased to R655 million due to strong appetite from financial institutions who like and understand the Letshego story.

“The fact that we provide international investors with geographic and credit diversification makes Letshego a good investment-destination for funds seeking sub-Sahara Africa opportunities,’’ said Low. The proceeds of the issue were partially used to refinance R475million of ZAR notes that matured in December 2015, whilst the remainder of the funding will be deployed to growing the Letshego franchise, and its financial inclusion agenda.

The three new ZAR issuances, that include both fixed and floating rate senior secured notes maturing in 2018 and 2019, are part of Letshego’s JSE-listed ZAR2.5 billion Domestic Medium Term Note Programme.

This is in addition to Letshego’s BWP350 million of bonds listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, and MZN72 million in unlisted paper in Mozambique. Meanwhile the company, which operates in 11 African countries, is currently seeking to enter the continent’s biggest economy-Nigeria.

If it gets the nod, the company will acquire 100 percent of a depositing taking institution in Africa’s most populous nation. A similar deal is currently being pursued in Tanzania. 

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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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