Letshego Namibia down plays group turbulence

21 June 2019

Namibia Stock Exchange-listed Letshego Namibia has down played the impact of  the on-going turbulence at its Botswana based holding company, Letshego Group, which has led to the exodus of five top executives in the past year, including the group managing director, group financial officer and a CEO who only spent six months on the job.  Letshego Namibia says that the exodus has no material impact on the company.

“The leadership changes at Letshego Group level will not impact Namibian operations,” the company said in response to questions posed by the Windhoek Observer.
According to Botswana’s Mmegi Newspaper, the Independent director, Robert Thorton resigned from the company last August, with Group Managing Director, Chris Louw’s exit announced on the same day.
Louw, who had been with the micro lender for five years, is credited with Letshego’s rapid expansion into Africa taking the “deduction at source” model to countries across the continent.  His exit is reported to have been linked to disagreements on the company’s strategy going forward. 
Former International Finance Corporation executive, Smit Crouse who took over from Louw in late September and immediately began a review of operations and the “transformation agenda,” resigned suddenly six months later in March 2019.
Also in March, Colm Patterson according to media reports, an 11-year Letshego veteran, quit as Chief Financial Officer, followed by independent director, Christian van Schalkwyk early in May.
Prior to Louw’s arrival, Letshego had only expanded regionally to Namibia and Zambia. The board’s risk aversion after Louw’s departure can be seen in the withdrawal of Letshego’s banking licence in Botswana.
Quizzed if the local business will surrender its licence following suit with the decision by the group in Botswana, Letshego Namibia said it will continue with banking activities.
“Letshego Namibia remains committed to investing in and growing our local business to deliver sustainable value to customers across Namibia. Increasing customer access to our solutions remains one of Letshego’s key priorities, having expanded our physical footprint with three new branches last year, as well as having launched a new digital access channel with LetsGo cards, supported by MasterCard.  Since launching the cards towards the end of last year, customer interest in them is increasing on a monthly basis, with close to 5,000 existing customers applying for cards to date,” the company said.
“Letshego Namibia now has a physical branch network comprising 16 access points and three banking branches, further complimented by our digital channels in cards and mobile phone access.”
The listed company acknowledged the tough economic conditions facing the country have had an impact on its operations.
“Challenges experienced in the Namibian economy will always have an impact on businesses within the economy and Letshego is no exception.  Letshego remains committed to being a responsible lender, with clear and comprehensive credit evaluation processes in place, in the interest of helping our customers to secure and access the financial services they can afford,” the company 
Quizzed if the bank was facing increased loan defaults and being forced to write off loans, the company said, “Letshego wrote off 1.1 percent of the total book as at June 2018 (interim financial results published).  We continue to review and adapt our risk management strategies to proactively respond to evolving trends and changes within our local economic environment.  Letshego Namibia expects to maintain write-offs within acceptable limits.”
With a presence in 11 African states ranging from eSwatini to Kenya and Nigeria, Letshego is now a continental financial services company.



The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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