Standard Lesotho Bank through its corporate banking and SME banking divisions, offers a range of financial solutions for business customers. Head of SME Banking Khauhelo Ramokhongoana spoke to Lesotho Times business reporter ‘Mathabana Kotelo this week about trader loans and other business banking products.
MASERU — Trader loans, popularly known as tsau tsau, is a banking product offered under the SME division of Standard Lesotho Bank. The product is meant to provide small to medium enterprises with working capital.
Head of small to medium enterprises( SME) banking, Khauhelo Ramokhongoana said the product was first launched in 2012 as Quick Loans and despite receiving great response, the bank later had to refine the product following challenges of defaulting on loans.
“We have an improved product still known as tsau-tsau but which slightly differs from the first offering in that security is required for the loan to be granted,” Ramokhongoana said.
Trader loans offer trading business customers, working capital to buy stock. It is a short term loan paid back within six to twelve months. Qualifying businesses have to have been in operation for a year or more and have a business current account with the bank for a minimum of six months.
Before a loan is granted Ramokhongoana said a customer’s business needs are assessed as well as the viability of the business and then a suitable financial solution is recommended.
“So far, our customers have expressed satisfaction with this product, especially those who have seen returns from using the granted loans for the intended purpose”, he stated.
Other general business banking products on offer include overdraft facility, term loans, notice deposits, vehicle and asset finance, commercial property loans, trade finance and trader loans (tsau tsau) and also internet banking facilities.
A current account is another banking product that allows ease of transactions and the convenience of having money readily available as and when needed through ATM network.
A transactional account affords easy access to money while safeguarding it against theft and unintended use. It comes with; among other benefits the SMS express facility that allows customers to track transactions from the convenience of their mobile phone
Talking about partial credit guarantee scheme, Ramokhongoana said the bank had signed agreements with the Lesotho National Development Corporation LNDC and the government to provide partial security for loan seeking business clients with a viable business and who meets all other requirements.
“Banks do not normally finance the starting up of businesses, however we provide business clients with financial solutions suited to their business needs”
For small to, medium businesses, Standard Lesotho Bank will be launching a current account specially tailored for the lower end business customers in the near future.
Ramokhongoana added that “finance is not the only success factor in business. Businesses need more to survive so we also provide financial advice through the SME banking division.”
The SME division also plans to host training workshops to offer smes financial advice and to boost financial literacy so clients can be better informed on banking and managing money.
“As a bank we strive to provide the best possible service for our customers, therefore we assess a client’s needs and determine if they would receive best service option on sme or corporate banking”, said Ramokhongoana.
Ramokhongoana said the major role of the SME banking division is to provide sound financial advice and financial solutions to business customers
“We have a team of business bankers who are tasked with assessing a customer’s unique business needs and recommending suitable products”, he said.
“We have branches across the country and are currently working on offering business banking services in all our branches so that customers have access to services in their areas and not have to travel to main centres and regional offices”.