Letshego first opened its doors 24 year ago – with four employees working out of a one-roomed office. Today, the Group has over 3,000 employees which include direct sales agents spanning across 11 countries in sub Saharan Africa.
In Botswana, Letshego has over 300 employees split evenly between two operations: the Group Office that supports regional operations and the local subsidiary, Letshego Botswana (Letshego Financial Services Botswana) headed by Country CEO, Fergus Ferguson. “We are truly grateful and appreciative of the foundation for the growth that Botswana, the Botswana Government and our local regulators have provided to Letshego,” says Andrew Okai, the Letshego Group Chief Executive.
Botswana remains well-regulated and is amongst Letshego’s key markets because of the opportunities and stable – indeed favourable – economic climate it provides. What Letshego Financial Services Botswana CEO, Fergus Ferguson, believes is key for them to always ensure is that, per regulatory requirement, they are as up to date and aligned to the best practices of sound corporate governance. It is not just about being compliant for Ferguson, but about working to pre-emptively set the standard higher and adhere to it in a manner that ensures staff, customers’ and stakeholders’ benefit. This forward-thinking, or future-proofing, is very much part of the Letshego culture, and the country CEO affirms the subsidiary has an adept team in place that ensures they can unlock value at every turn.
Ferguson says Letshego Botswana has grown and evolved into a vastly different organisation from where it started 24 years ago, when it offered its first loan to a government employee in Gaborone. “Today, we support government employees as well as Micro and Small Entrepreneurs with financial solutions that are designed to unlock future income and expansion potential,” Ferguson recollects. To deliver on its promise to improve lives, he adds that they are supporting Botswana entrepreneurs through multiple partnerships, including the Botswana Innovation Hub and These Hands.
The Botswana Innovation Hub collaborates with the private sector to empower, guide and mentor entrepreneurs, assisting with skills, collaboration and a space to collaborate. These Hands is an innovation organisation founded by dynamic visionary, Thabiso Mashaba that goes into rural communities to identify local innovators who are making a difference in the lives of fellow residents. These Hands then supports, mentors and provides seed funding to bring innovations to life, and once tested, into production. To date Letshego says it has supported These Hands in empowering over 200 innovators to bring their ideas to production across 10 rural communities. Innovations have included barrows to transport water, apparatus to facilitate effective brick manufacturing and the co-creation of ventures that address community livelihood challenges.
Against this background management say Botswana continues to provide a valuable source of growth and investment for Letshego’s future growth trajectory. “Letshego supports individuals and entrepreneurs to achieve their goals, or as we say in our LetsGoNation, we aim to give fellow Africans ‘the Power to be and do’,” Ferguson adds. Letshego’s #LetsGoNation is an online-based community for all Africans to join, network and share experiences, celebrating their passion for the continent and collaboration in building Africa by Africans. As Botswana is the first Nation from which Letshego launched the LetsGo Digital Mall, Ferguson says it comes as no surprise that they continually receive great reception here. For now, he says the Digital Mall serves as a catalyst to provide customers with a simple and accessible platform to their accounts, or apply for a new loan or top up. The platform is specifically designed to grow and evolve to offer customers a more holistic and expansive financial services experience. Uptake on this platform is continually growing. Since launching the Digital Mall, the Group has grown its Enterprise Active customers registered on the LetsGo Digital Mall from 71,000 in December 2021 to over 450,000 customers by the end of March 2022.
“We promote the benefits of leveraging seed finance for productive purposes, so our customers can invest in activities that not only provide sustainable benefits, but also help the next generation to gain greater opportunities for their futures,” Ferguson says. For him, the focus remains on people over profits, and he believes that this ethos is the foundation of Letshego’s strength in this competitive market.
As such, he says the Letshego Botswana subsidiary is proactively investing and expanding its product offering for the benefit of Batswana, wherever they may be located. This expansion has been expedited by the launch of its digital platform, the LetsGo Digital Mall. Ferguson says Letshego Botswana would like to ultimately expand its offering into savings opportunities, but in the meantime the brand has a number of exciting product and customer-savvy initiatives on the go, and in the pipeline for launch this year. “Letshego is committed to exploring the benefits of a deposit-licence when the time is right within our product strategy, and when the business is primed to maximise the opportunity for immediate benefit to our customers and stakeholders,” adds Ferguson .
“We are further digitising channels with the launch of our LetsGo Digital Mall across our footprint markets in Africa – an omnichannel platform for easy access to products and solutions, as well as third party partners and suppliers to provide holistic value in bringing choice and access to our customers wherever they are located across the continent,” adds Okai “We are also rapidly diversifying our product offering into impact segments like housing, green financing and education, as well as empowering our employees and local talent with digital skills to support our vision to create a future-fit organisation, and bright economic future for our communities.”
Through its digitalisation strategy and the launch of LetsGo Digital Mall, customers can now access Letshego’s solutions and services wherever they may be located, either via their mobile, USSD or internet. “And we are not stopping there – we continue to leverage our digital strategy to diversify our product offering and delivery to customers, with the latest solutions being insurance and education,” Ferguson says. “All our solutions are accessible via our LetsGo Digital Mall, this includes the Group’s latest lifestyle platform that brings health and wellness guidance and advice to our customers, all in the palm of their hands.”
Digitalisation enabled Letshego to build resilience through the ongoing pandemic, allowing customers to access its solutions in a safe and healthy environment, as well as ensure that the company continues to improve lives by delivering sustainable support and value. Okai says the “health and wellbeing of our customers remains our priority, and spurred us to our most recent venture into adding a lifestyle platform within our Mall, forming part of our ‘beyond financial services’ offering, and demonstrating our commitment to supporting customers on a more holistic basis.”
‘The year of the customer’ is one of Letshego’s themes to increase its focus and delivery. This theme threads through all divisions, markets and strategies, reiterating one of our most important stakeholders. For its customers, Okai says this means more tailor-made solutions that will address their growing needs. “Our product offering is now expanding in choice and experience, Batswana can look forward to some exciting initiatives in the pipeline for 2022,” the Group CEO says.
Just this year Letshego announced that Botswana would be the first of its sub-regional digital hubs to launch the LetsGo Digital Mastery programme – a programme for young and up-and-coming individuals in its communities that share a passion for digital entrepreneurship and creating future-fit organisations in Africa. This year Letshego will start the programme with 10 candidates, with the aim of launching the same programme in Kenya and Ghana in due course. The ‘Digital Mastery’ programme is an 18 month programme that will enable interns to gain regional skills in financial services, financial technology, as well as cross-border exposure into Letshego’s African footprint. The course includes rotations across various departments, as well as sessions by world-class partners such as McKinsey and TCS. When the interns graduate –their CV’s will have grown with expanded international experience, and an appreciation and can-do approach in initiating sustainable initiatives. The LetsGo Digital Mastery Programme is expected to boost candidates future careers to flourish for many years to come.