Lesotho
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ACCESS TO FINANCE IN THABA-TSEKA

They say cash is king, very true for a tourist visiting Thaba-Tseka district in Lesotho. Vast majority of people in Thaba-Tseka are small business owners in farming who started from scratch, raised their own startup capital to finance operational expenses. They managed to grow their businesses so much now they need proper reliable financial systems to safeguard their hard earned cash. Limpho Rantletse writes about cash management systems in Thaba-Tseka.

There are only two banks in Thaba-Tseka; Standard Lesotho Bank (SLB) and Lesotho Post Bank (LPB). This gives small business owners, farmers, employees, individual living in this district and tourists alike no choice but to use available establishments. For each bank, there is just one auto teller machine (ATM) attached outside the same bank. However in extremely desperate situations the next ATM is in Mants’onyane, 49.0km away from Thaba-Tseka town central business area.

Kamohelo Rantletse a resident in Thaba-Tseka says she has accounts with both banks. Therefore she personally thinks they are the most affordable and the safest investments. She added that she would love to experience ewallet services from First National Bank (FNB) and Nedbank products however they are confined to use SLB and LPB.

“The biggest challenge we face is that there are only two ATMs here. When these ATMs are not functioning, it gets extremely frustrating. We have to wait three to four days for them to be fixed and we there still can’t access our finances,” said Rantletse.

Another challenge individuals encounter is lack of timely service delivery resulting from business people queuing with ordinary clients in one line. In other banks we are not separated, they are offered the same treatment, they join the same queue, and are offered the same daily limit, and this becomes an obstacle to the business owners. It also compromises their safety especially where people can prey on them when they are depositing and withdrawing huge amounts for their business activities.  

Despite the mentioned challenges, most of Thaba-Tseka people are very happy about their services. They however hope and believe that additional ATMs by the two banks will make their lives much easier because if the other ATM is not functioning, they will use the other alternatives.

However the introduction of speed points or swiping machines really came to their rescue. There are some businesses where people are allowed to make payments via those payment options. These businesses are PEP store, Motherland guesthouse, Mohale oa Masite guesthouse, The Clan Lounge located at Mohlakeng and Cheng Wang wholesale supermarket, to name the few. For business continuity, these are establishments in Thaba-Tseka that allow every individual no matter their bank, the ability to pay for goods and service.   

The other main issue for people living in Thaba Tseka is that they still struggle to access money from their loved ones beyond the borders of Lesotho. With the absence of Shoprite store or Usave hence people cannot get money via Shoprite money market .They can only get money through Mukuru financial service and its charges are very high. Since Mukuru is the only way they can get their money from outside the country, there are a lot of long queues.

Thaba-Tseka’ elders like all the elders from other communities in Lesotho get their pension funds. They get their pension funds from the age of 70 at the only available LPB on the mentioned date. They are given their pension funds by an individual from the pension fund offices. On the day of collection of the pension fund money, elders go to the LPB. One can only imagine the congestion on that day. Slow services and snaking queues.     

There are still some reliable financial service providers accessible and trustable. Lesotho communication service providers companies being Vodacom Mpesa and Econet Ecocash. Mpesa agents and Ecocash agents are numerous in Thaba-Tseka and most people trust them for instant financial needs. They are cheaper, one only needs to have a cellphone and registered simcard to operate, they are reliable, almost any local shop has e-money facilities and more accessible beyond banking hours thus they are so much popular.

Both Vodacom and Econet shops are available in Thaba-Tseka which makes it easy for the many Mpesa and Ecocash agents to refill their money regular and serve their customers.

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