Letshego Holdings Namibia Ltd and Letshego Bank Namibia Ltd, CEO, Ester Kali, says it is truly a humbling experience to be recognised for a prestigious award by the United Nations and hopes this recognition award has inspired others more than it has inspired herself.
Kali was recently awarded ‘A woman of Distinction’ Award by the United Nations Global Women Foundation.
“The responses and feedback from my friends and colleagues have been overwhelming to say the least, but what I have realised through receiving this award, is that one does not necessarily realise the impact one makes in the lives of others. This is a humbling experience and inspires me to continue doing the best even if no one is watching, however someone will one day notices your good deeds,” she told Observer Money this week.
Explaining how she ended up with the award, Kali describes herself as a philanthropist at heart and together with her friends have established a charity organisation, Tukwafele (which means ‘Let’s support’).
Tukwafele assists orphanages and old aged homes, mentors upcoming professionals in the financial industry and advocates for young women from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Through these speaking platforms and initiatives, I have showcased my passion for leadership in both the corporate leadership capacity as well as leading on pertinent social issues affecting the Namibian communities and in so-doing, was proudly selected as one of 25 African Women ambassadors, bestowed with the Women Empowerment Peace Ambassador, Women of Distinction award by the United Nations Global Women Foundation and Honorary Doctorate Trinity International University of Ambassadors,” says Kali.
The Letshego executive hopes that by receiving this award, it will encourage young Namibian women and instill self confidence within them, that they too can reach higher heights.
Letshego Holdings Namibia in recent financial results declared a profit of N$350 million and 44,89 cents dividend per share, the profit after tax went up by 16%, Kali says growth in the financial results primarily stems from the rising interest rate environment.
“Over the Covid lockdown periods, interest rates were dropped to very low levels and consequently our profits went down. With the rising interest rate environment over the past year, our profit has similarly grown in line with interest rates.”
Micro lending is a controversial business in Namibia and Kali agrees that the micro-lending operating environment in Namibia is not without its challenges but said micro- lending should be considered as a key enabler to drive financial inclusion in the Namibian economy.
“The industry is often perceived by notions of stimulating debt amongst consumers but at Letshego, we encourage sustainable business models and therefore encourage the use of productive lending practices rather than consumptive lending.”
Letshego’s current and future expansion plans primarily focuses on opening up its market segments to not only government employees, but to the Namibian communities at large, specifically on the low to middle income and medium small enterprises segments of the market.
“Our strategy is founded on digital enablement as our primary channel of engagement.”
Kali says Letshego Holdings Namibia has been one of the top performing shares over the past year, on the Namibia Stock Exchange due to its strong performance in the market.
“Our recent dividend declared has been seen as favourable compared to other listed entities.”
While many view Letshego as a largely micro lending business, Kali says Letshego Bank currently offers a housing loan product, a transactional bank account with a debit card, personal loans as well as savings and investment accounts.
“We are serious about diversifying our target segment.” Letshego has 17 branches and also offers services through the Digital Mall, Letshego Bank’s banking app.