Financial literacy has an important role to play in accelerating financial inclusion, according to Letshego managing director Christopher Low.
It is against this backdrop that Letshego saw it fit to launch a three year nationwide financial literacy campaign, which will cover the civil service, parastatals, private and informal sectors.
Financial literacy is defined as the knowledge and understanding of personal finance concepts and the skills, motivation and confidence to make informed financial choices, and participate in economic life.
Low noted that as part of the broader solution to the national concern on financial inclusion, personal financial education has been identified as necessary.
“Financial literacy is a very important tool for financial inclusion that is why financial inclusion has been, and remains, core to Letshego’s strategic agenda,” he said.
Financial inclusion is defined as the provision of affordable financial services to the low, middle-income and disadvantaged sections of society. According to Low, African countries have amongst the highest rates of ‘exclusion’ globally, at about 77 percent. He however said that on average, 75 percent of active adults across Africa have mobile phones.
“Mobile phones, innovative access channels, direct approaches with simple, affordable and ethical solutions that are relevant to the needs of the unbanked and under-banked, are means of creating inclusion,” he said.
Low also said forums such as the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, in which over 90 percent of African governments and regulators have membership, are important platforms to raise the profile and impact of financial inclusion efforts in Africa.
He pointed out that over the last 15 years, Letshego has positioned itself to assist governments with their financial deepening and financial inclusion agendas. He further stated that Letshego is committed to building a leading African financial services group in partnership with governments and the people in Botswana, Lesotho and Mozambique.
“Letshego believes in financial inclusion being fundamental to Africa’s success,” he said.
Low revealed that in Botswana, financial inclusion efforts and platforms include a survey called ‘Making Access to Financial Services Possible’ conducted by FinMark Trust in conjunction with Econsult Botswana, under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
Low also said Letshego is assisting with the drafting of terms of reference of the Roadmap SteerCo involvement with the ministry, adding that engagement with private sector and government, and providing information to the research teams of finance and development planning. Letshego was part of a Botswana delegation that participated in the SADC financial inclusion indaba. The micro lender is also present in five other SADC countries, namely Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Tanzania.