SMME targets increase in mobile money use

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Nthatuoa Koeshe

THE Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises Network (SMME Network-Lesotho) says it is working to increase the use of mobile money among the population by the 30 percent over a period of six months beginning in March this year.

This was revealed by SMME Network-Lesotho coordinator, Makama Masitha-Hones, after the organisation was recently named among the winners of the Financial Education Grants on Thursday in Maseru.

SMME Network-Lesotho won US$40 000 for their work in increasing awareness and the use of mobile money. The grants followed a call for innovative proposals to promote mobile money among rural low income populations which was issued by the Ministry of Finance and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) last November.

The SMME Support Network -Lesotho is an organisation that brings together individuals, entities and organisations that deal with SMMEs to cooperate with the government in creating business opportunities for budding entrepreneurs.

Ms Masitha-Hones said their approach to scaling up inclusive business models in support of financial education for mobile money entailed the creation and/or increasing awareness, acceptance and use of existing mobile money, products, services and technology through public seminars.

“The focus of our approach will be on the Khathang Tema Street vendors Alliance in the Maseru district, the business community in Semonkong, Nazareth and Qeme areas as these areas have a high population density,” Ms Masitha-Hones said.

She said they would also operate in Quthing, lower Moyeni and Mohale’s Hoek, explaining that these areas were chosen on the basis of the high economic activity observed in the town centres.

“We want to increase the use of the mobile money products, services and technology by 30 percent of the contacted population through seminars and training and enhance business sustainability and profitability for agents through business and financial education skills development.”

Ms Masitha-Hones said they want to leverage new innovative mobile money products and services; as well as advocate for a more conducive legal and regulatory framework for a thriving mobile money market which is inclusive of the low income and rural populace.

“When we talk of promotion of mobile money usage we are referring to being able to use mobile money to purchase goods and services from wherever one is.”

Speaking at the award ceremony on Thursday, the UNDP Resident Representative, Salvator Niyonzima, said expressed gratitude to the Central Bank of Lesotho, Vodacom and Econet and other organisations who supported the grants.

Mr Niyonzima said inadequate finances and lack of financial literacy were serious challenges, adding that the winners’ ideas would positively transform people’s lives in the remote areas.

For her part, Ms Mathabo Makenete, the Deputy Governor of Central Bank said their mandate was to provide the best services and give clean data.

She also said insurance companies should review their regulations and be innovative with their policies to embrace more rural people.

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