Meet Botswanas 22 year-old FinTech prodigy
Refiloe Matlapeng, a 22 year-old Motswana technoprenur is making it big in South Africa’s FinTech industry, offering technology based insurance solutions through her company, Mahali Media.
In recognition of her talents, the young lady has been nominated for the Female Tech-role model of the year at the Southern Africa Start up Awards billed for November this year. The Southern Africa Start-Up Awards is Southern Africa Chapter of world-renowned Global Startup Awards.
The Global Startup Awards provides an annual spotlight focus to web/tech start-ups in regions across the globe. Each individual regional award places a heavy focus on unearthing and rewards the very best from within their respective ecosystems & connecting each of the countries to create a stronger united brand.
The awards stand to represent the entire start-up and tech community – from the start-ups themselves, through to the people behind them, & organizations that work alongside these visionaries to make great things possible. Born and bred in Botswana, Matlapeng moved to South Africa after realising that she stood a better chance of fulfilling her dream abroad than home.
“Locally the FinTech industry does not appreciate mobile app technology. This is because generally it is very expensive to access internet locally, which limits people from using mobile apps,”she said. “Mobile applications consumes a lot of data, I think that is the major problem in Botswana. Most of Batswana have not familiarised themselves with these applications and cannot use them,” she said.
Matlapeng’s company, Mahali Media has managed to attract venture capitalist across Southern Africa, including Swaziland and South Africa. Growing up as an inquisitive techno-savvy kid, Matlapeng found herself learning computer programming on her own from early age. She defines herself as an innovator in the finance industry, and that the mobile applications she develops, solves problems in the Finance industry.
In a nutshell, she makes it possible for people to access their finances through their mobile applications and websites. “I build any kind of technology around the finance industry. I don’t want to say I am a disruptor but rather an enabler. I meet needs where the finance industry cannot meet,” said Matlapeng.
Her interest for the technology world all started with her trying to invest in the stock market and realised that along the process she had difficulty with applying and buying stocks. She explains that is when she came into the picture. Instead of one having to queue for long hours to fill a piece of paper using a pen and travelling long distances to Gaborone to buy stock why not develop an application that would allow one to access their finances whenever and wherever they are/?
The intelligent looking young lady cited that she had always been an innovator for as long as she can remember. Despite attempts to study in the university and failing dismally Matlapeng did not let this shutter her dreams, she went on to acquire knowledge through online courses and trainings.
“My path of acquiring education may not be in a usual manner. I got 19 points during my form five and I only passed after re-writing. In used to leave school premises during club days to go home and build website,” elaborated Matlapeng. Matlapeng says she looks up to the likes of Thomas Edison, Zuckerberg and Elson Musk. She believes that if they could do it she can also make it as an innovator.
Matlapeng revealed that her company is currently working with one of the insurance companies in South Africa which will be helping them to kick-start their insurance company. In conclusion Matlapeng emphasised that entrepreneurship is a driver of economic development. She says in order to fight the constant battle of unemployment in Botswana the government needs a radical and disruptive solution that does not look at things in the lense of the current economy.
“Botswana needs a solution that is able to address its unemployment problem with the least amount of resources necessary and that requires the development of a new parallel economy, a digital economy. The world is now shifting away from occupying offices and labour work to automation and that is what’s going to create more jobs and quickly,” Matlapeng concluded.
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Grit divests from Letlole La Rona
Grit Services Limited, a member of the pan African real estate group, London Stock Exchange listed Grit Real Estate Income Group is divesting from Letlole La Rona Limited (LLR), a local real estate company established by government investment arm Botswana Development Corporation over a decade ago.
The Board of Directors of Letlole La Rona Limited this week announced in a statement to Unitholders that Grit Services Limited (âGritâ) has informed them of its intention to exit its investment in the company.
Grit has been a material shareholder in LLR since 2019. On 07 March 2023, Grit sold 6 421 000 linked units, representing 2.29% of the Companyâs total securities in issue, at a market value of BWP 22 537 710.
This trade follows previous sales of 6.79% in December 2022, as communicated to Unitholders on 10 January 2023, as well as a further sale of 4.78% (representing 13 347 068 linked units) on 24 February 2023 to various shareholders.
In aggregate, Grit has sold 13.9% shareholding in the Letlole La Rona between December 2022 and March 2023, resulting in current shareholding of 11.25% in the Company.
Letlole La Rona said in the statement that the exit process will take place in an orderly manner so as to maintain stability of the Companyâs share price.
The statement explained that Gritâs sale of its entire shareholding in LLR is in line with its decision to exit investments where it does not have majority control, or where it has significant exposure to currencies other than US dollar, Euro or hard-currency-pegged revenue streams.
âGrit has announced similar decisions pertaining to certain of its hospitality assets in Mauritius recently. The Company would like to advise Unitholders that it remains focused on long-term value delivery to all stakeholdersâ LLR said
In July last year as part of their Go-to-Africa strategy Letlole La Rona acquired an initial 30% equity stake in Orbit Africa Logistics, with an option to increase this investment to 50%. OAL is a special purpose vehicle incorporated in Mauritius, owning an industrial asset in a prime industrial node in Nairobi, Kenya.
The co-investment was done alongside a wholly owned subsidiary of London listed Grit. The Orbit facility is situated on a prime industrial site on Mombasa Road, the principal route south of Nairobi center, serving the main industrial node, the port of Mombasa and the industrial town of Athi River and is strategically located 11 kilometers south of the international airport and 9.6 kilometers from the Inland Container Depot.
Grit shareholding in Letlole La Rona was seen as strategic for LLR, for the company to leverage on Gritâs already existing continental presence and expand its wings beyond Botswana borders as already delivered by Kenya transaction.
Media reports have however suggested that LLR and Grit have since late last year had fundamental disagreements on how to go about the Go-to-Africa strategy amongst other things, fuelled by alleged Botswana government interference on the affairs of LLR.
Government through LLR founding shareholder – Botswana Development Corporation has a controlling stake of around 40 percent in the company. Government is the sole shareholder of Botswana Development Corporation.
Letlole La Rona recently released their financial results for the six months ended December 2022, revenue increased by 4% to P50.2 million from P48.4 million in the prior comparative six months, whilst operating profit was up 8% to P36.5 million. Profit before tax of P49.7 million was reported, an increase of 8% on the prior comparative six months.
âWe are encouraged by the strong results, notwithstanding a challenging economic environment. Our performance was mainly underpinned by annual lease escalations, our quality tenant base and below average market vacancy levels, especially in our warehouse portfolio,â Kamogelo Mowaneng, Letlole La Rona Chief Executive Officer commented.
LLR reported a weighted average lease expiry period of 3.3 years and escalation rates averaging 6.8% per annum for the period ended 31 December 2022.Its investment portfolio value increased by 14% year-on-year to close the period at P1.4 billion, mainly driven by the acquisition of a 30% stake in OAL in July 2022.
The Company also recorded a significant increase in other income, predominantly due to foreign exchange gains on the OAL shareholder loan. âWe continue to explore pipeline opportunities locally, and regionally in line with our Go-to-Africa strategy and our interest remains on value-accretive investments,â Mowaneng said.
An interim distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit was declared on the 6th of February 2023 for the half-year period to 31 December 2022, comprising of a dividend of 0.05 thebe and debenture interest of 9.06 thebe per linked unit which will be paid to linked unit holders registered in the books of the Company at the close of business on 24 February 2023.
Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.
The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.
âIn accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,â said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.
In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices.Â Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.
âCommunity empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,â said Shah.
Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Â Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.
âAs a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economyâs productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,â said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.
Food import bill slightly declines
The latest figures released by Statistics Botswana this week shows that food import bill for Botswana slightly declined from around P1.1 billion in November 2022 to around P981 million in December during the same year.
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