Microlender Plans West African Expansion After Ghana Acquisition

ACCRA (Capital Markets in Africa) – Letshego Holdings Ltd., the Botswana microlender that has made acquisitions in Nigeria and Ghana during the past year, plans to enter Ivory Coast to boost access to West Africa’s francophone market.

The lender, which has operations in 11 African countries, is also weighing up an expansion into Zambia and Zimbabwe, Chief Executive Officer Christopher Low said in an interview in Botswana’s capital, Gaborone.

Letshego, which had a loan book of $620 million at the end of June last year and about 380,000 customers, will sell “two to three” medium-term bonds over the next 12 months to fund its expansion and lending growth, Low said. The company has secured $20 million from an unidentified French company that provides financing to microlenders and is on the verge of another “very big transaction,” which will be denominated in Botswana’s currency, the pula, he said, declining to give more details.

The lender, which in 2014 surrendered efforts to get a banking license in Botswana, will again approach regulators so it can take deposits, which will lower Letshego’s cost of funding, the CEO said. President Ian Khamain October appointed Moses Dinekere Pelaelo as central bank governor, giving Letshego an opportunity to lobby its case, Low said. The company has five deposit-taking units.

The stock, which dropped 21 percent in 2016, was unchanged for a ninth straight day on Tuesday on the Botswana bourse.

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