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NEWLY APPOINTED: Charlotte Mathula

ExpressCredit’s new queen

With a career verging on 20 years in the financial industry, Charlotte Mathula was recently appointed Chief Executive Officer of ExpressCredit Botswana.

In this interview with Voice Money’s KABELO ADAMSON, Mathula outlines her plans for one of the fastest growing micro-lenders in the country.

As the new CEO, what are your priorities?

ExpressCredit is a game-changer and one of the fastest micro-lenders in Botswana. We are a technology and data-driven lending company leveraging technology, a wide branch network and direct sales agents to provide access to finance.

ExpressCredit is a company with potential, and I plan to use untapped resources to not only build a sustainable, scalable business but transform the micro-lending space.

I encourage our employees to live the company’s mission and values every day to secure financial freedom for local communities underserved by mainstream financiers and make a meaningful impact in our country.

We aim to continue being the fastest and most accessible financier.

As our tag line suggests, emergencies demand express, and we are ExpressCredit.

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It also goes without saying that investment in people will also be a key priority as I am passionate about people.

We have already enrolled our staff for various short courses to capacitate them to serve our customers better.

As a relative veteran of the industry, how would you describe the micro-financing space in Botswana?

Our micro-financing space is a consumption-led market, with financial institution competing for the same customers.

Over time, banks have moved into the micro-finance space, which has led to the evolution of products and services, including high loan amounts and long tenures.

However, a significant part of our local communities remains underserved as there is a focus on Government workers and salaried individuals.

At ExpressCredit, we want to drive financial inclusiveness by providing relevant solutions and accessibility.

I have observed that our customers in microfinance are late adopters of technology.

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The challenge we have ahead is to find innovative ways to serve underserved customer across all our segments.

Kindly take us through your working history?

On the professional side, I can sum it up by saying I am a consumer lending and micro-finance expert with close to 20 years of experience who has retooled to become a digital transformation strategist.

I have held various senior management and executive roles.

I started at BBS as a Branch Manager before moving on to StanChart, where I worked my way up from a Customer Services and Sales Manager to the Africa Head of Home Loans and Car Loans and Head of Retail Lending Botswana.

I have also served as the Head of Home Loans and Retail Lending for FNBB.

Before joining ExpressCredit, I worked for Letshego Holdings Limited as the Group Product Owner Digital Lending and formerly Head of Financial Inclusion for Letshego Botswana.

And how would you describe the journey so far?

My journey has been nothing short of amazing, as a result of hard work, passion for what I do, and investment in personal development.

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I have had the pleasure of working for different institutions with different cultures, enabling me to learn new skills and be led and coached by great leaders who believed in my potential.

I am a global citizen having lived and worked in different markets regionally and internationally, including Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Dubai. What I value most throughout my journey is the people I have met.

There is a general belief that micro-financers charge clients huge interest rates with unending repayments, what’s your take on this?

Micro financing is there to bridge the gap of financial constraints to the people.

In my opinion, we are the solution!

The intention is never to provide huge loan amounts for extended periods but rather to provide bridging finance.

For example, our Open market loan has a repayment period from three months to 24 months and is capped at P25, 000. This product is tailor-made for individuals who work for private companies and parastatals who may have a real financial emergency.

Our Government loans have longer tenures as we collect from source and can provide finance up to retirement age.

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Our interest rates are charged on a monthly basis, meaning the shorter the tenure, the less you pay. As we say, we provide money when you need it, and we pride ourselves on our excellent loan processing time.

We are also in the process of providing financial awareness training to our customers to assist them in managing their finances better.

What are you doing to dispel this belief?

A lot of financial literacy and awareness, as mentioned above, must be done.

Children must be taught this at an early age to give them the understanding and financial freedom they will need during their life journey.

I also encourage customers to ask questions and read the fine print and not only focus on the maximum loan amount they can get.

Find out from your financier the total amount financed, interest rates and loan tenures, as well as applicable penalties for early repayment.

How much market share does ExpressCredit hold in Botswana?

Botswana’s lending market is diverse hence our focus is mainly to lead on financial exclusiveness and deliver ‘Express Service’.

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Besides personal loans, what does ExpressCredit offer?

Recently ExpressCredit, in partnership with Hollard Botswana, introduced a new add-on Credit life insurance to pay the outstanding debt in case of unprecedented events like death, disability, dread diseases as well as a funeral cover of P5, 000 and loss of income cover where the insurance will pay six-month loan installment.

Credit Life insurance will provide financial security, peace of mind and help our clients sleep tight at night.

What other products are you looking to introduce into the market in the near future?

We are on a transformative journey to provide relevant financial solutions to meet the financial needs of our customers.

We would not like to give away too much at this point, but we are determined to increase access and diversify our product range and customer segments.

How many branches does ExpressCredit have in the country?

Currently, ExpressCredit has a call centre reachable on 3165512 in Gaborone and ten branches across Botswana.

As we continue to grow, we plan to expand our points of presence to solidify our status as the most accessible and fastest consumer finance company of choice.

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