With just two months operating in the local money lending sphere, Express Credit Botswana Director, Thuto Madibela, says business is showing signs of growth.
Sitting down for an interview with The Voice Business reporter, Lame Modise, at his office at the Gaborone Train Station Mall, the 39-year-old entrepreneur attests to a tumultuous journey that took more than a year for the entity to finally open.
It is full steam ahead for the infant business since attaining accreditation and registering with the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) and the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC).
Speaking to the stigma associated with microlenders who are most often than not referred to as loan sharks or ‘Machonisa’ who are often times accused of unscrupulous practices of plunging customers in an unending cycle of debt because they want to maximize sales, Madibela states that as a new entrant in the micro-lending space, Express Credit takes its customer financial literacy and security seriously.
Madibela advocates for personal financial literacy as he believes that an educated customer will plan their budgets and use money wisely, something that will ensure that the micro-lending industry thrives. “We cannot kill our market,” he says
On the issue of customer privacy, Express Credit, which is a subsidiary of an international microlending financial institution operating in emerging markets in Europe and recently Africa in Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana, has an application where a client can process money requisition electronically in the comfort of their offices and homes.
The Director explains that once the client has been to the branch and has had a loan application processed and their particulars entered in the system, they do not need to go to the branch for another loan application as they can then use the electronic set-up to apply.
“It is a fact that everyone needs money and it has also been realized that people would rather not be seen entering or leaving a micro-lender office,” he explains.
Apart from giving consumers the convenience and privacy they want, the electronic system is expected to significantly reduce the micro-lenders waste of paper, a development that will see a subsequent decline in the environmental impact of the enterprise.
“Though we have a fast turn-around time of under 24-hours for our Pay-Day-Loan product, we have engaged a robust screening process that lets us know if a customer has a good credit rating,” he states, adding that they have processed around 200 successful loan applications since setting up shop in March, “That is not to say we don’t turn down dubious applications,” he states.
Speaking to how he got into the money lending scene, the former Chief Operations Officer at Letshego Financial Services says he honed his skills at his former job.
He explains that he had always wanted to be an entrepreneur and help transform the local unemployment situation.
Madibela adds that Express Credit Botswana currently has the one shop in Gaborone with a staff complement of 10 youth and also that the intention is to increase the number of employees as they increase their footprint in the country.
“I have realized that Batswana youth have the aptitude to learn and get trained to do any job, so as a young person, I am looking forward to working with them and take this country far,” he remarks.
The expansion plan includes other high traffic places in Gaborone such as the Main Mall, next to the Government Enclave, where they intend to extensively sell their 12-month product formulated exclusively for government employees.
“In the long run, we are looking at opening branches around the country in places like Francistown, Maun, Kasane, Selibe-Phikwe, Lobatse, Jwaneng and other areas when the need arises,” he says.
In total, there will be 15 Express Credit branches in the country with five of them distributed around Gaborone.