Hotel, tourism and hospitality group Cresta Marakanelo Limited has donated over 2000 masks to Matlapana Primary School in Maun and Chobe Community Junior Secondary School in Kasane to help in the fight against COVID-19 in less privileged communities.
The growing numbers of COVID- 19 cases amongst schools, students and teachers has led Cresta to act swiftly in providing the much-needed resources to help protect the learning environment. Chobe Community Junior Secondary School and Matlapana Primary School are the first beneficiaries of the initiative which is expected to be rolled out nationwide.
“This is not just a fight for our economic revival and our lives. This is a fight for our future. Children are our best chance for hope. Our assurance for a tomorrow rests with them and their survival. The donation of these masks is our way of helping communities in the country during this difficult period. Schools are faced with the challenge of providing enough essential items such as sanitizers, washbasins and more for their students.”
‘‘Cresta is committed to playing its part in making sure that the virus does not penetrate any further in the learning environment. We are in this fight together and it is important that we protect students and teachers; augment Government’s efforts in fighting this pandemic,” notes Cresta Marakanelo Limited Managing Director Mokwena Morulane.
This donation is made possible through the collaboration between the hotel chain and Contemporary Linen. Both schools expressed gratitude towards the donation they received, stating that it was already a challenge to provide every student with a face mask and other required resources that are used to protect one from the COVID- 19 pandemic.
“We are grateful for Cresta’s support to help us create a safe environment in our schools and offices. These critical supplies, combined with basic safety precautions, such as regular hand-washing and social distancing, will help protect our teachers, students, and their families,” stated a combined statement from Chobe Community Junior Secondary School and Matlapana Primary School.
In the coming weeks Cresta will be focusing on academic institutions in Francistown and Gaborone. Cresta was one of the first hotels to provide its facilities in Gaborone and Francistown to the Government for quarantine purposes during the critical stages of the Republic’s battle with the pandemic in March this year.
BancABC, the BSE-listed bank, today announced the launch of its new brand promise, “We Understand You” to further encapsulate the Bank’s commitment to its customers and their needs.
The rationale for the launch comes at a time that requires innovative and agile financial solutions in order to improve customer’s banking experience, deliver consistent quality service and solidify relationships established over the years.
Commenting on the launch, BancABC Managing Director, Kgotso Bannalotlhe said, “The launch of our new brand promise follows a deep dive into our employees, customers, partners, and investors’ expectations, which was prudent in order to understand their evolving needs. We have taken heed of all the feedback received and remain committed to continuously seeking ways to offer improved products and services, reinventing financial solutions and above all, a seamless banking experience.”
The launch of the three year “We Understand You” campaign, comes on the back of the Bank’s 10th anniversary, and in these rapidly changing and tumultuous times, the Bank has moved with dexterity to fortify its value proposition to its customers. Through the launch of this new brand promise, the Bank seeks to strengthen its offerings within Retail, SMME and Corporate banking.
The Bank’s previous brand promise was “Changing For You” and has now evolved into the “We Understand You” that reflects BancABC’s commitment to understanding its customers’ needs, offering solutions for every stage of their life and business journey, as they strive towards achieving their financial goals.
In light of prioritizing customer experience, the Bank increased its transactional capabilities by launching a new 3D Secure programme called Verified by Visa. This online security protocol, which provides cardholders with an additional authentication layer that confirms the validity of their identity, prevents the unauthorised usage of payment cards. Additionally, BancABC introduced Contactless debit and credit cards, which give customers the convenience of making payments by simply tapping their card on contactless Point-of-Sale machines.
“These customer-centric solutions are a demonstration of our promise to positioning ourselves as the preferred bank for the people of Botswana. These are also proof points of the Bank’s efforts to enhance the transactional capabilities by offering customers hassle-free functionalities that encourage them to transact more; and as a result, improve the overall value proposition,” says Grace Setlhare-Mankanku, Head of Retail Banking.
BancABC also made significant efforts to increase its geographical footprint, by adding four new ATMs to its network at the various Sales and Service Centres across the country, to decrease traffic at the branches and services centres and provide customers with easy access to banking services.
To better serve customers who prefer remote banking and to promote social distancing practices, BancABC successfully its revamped mobile banking platform, SaruMoney which is accessible through USSD and as an App. The Bank continues to expand capabilities on the SaruMoney platform in line with its focus on innovative digital banking solutions.
Designed with the typical Botswana bank user’s needs in mind, SaruMoney has increased security features, ensuring safe, accessible, reliable, and universal movement of funds. Additionally, BancOnline, the state-of-the-art digital platform, tailor-designed for improving the digital banking experience for Commercial Banking customers has also helped spur growth in BancABC’s transactional volumes, further entrenching the Bank as Botswana’s bank of choice.
“We Understand You” is an outward expression to our customers and the communities we serve, and it affirms that we acknowledge them, hear them, and recognise their needs. This is particularly essential for us right now, as we are required to be nimble in order to adapt to market changes, trends, as well as customers’ dynamic needs.
I firmly believe that our new brand promise is a testament to our business’s ability to respond to the evolving market conditions while ensuring we deliver quality services for the next ten years and beyond,” concludes Bannalotlhe.
Giant Information and Communications Technology service provider, Huawei Botswana and Botho University have established a partnership to bring a cutting-edge ICT gear to Botswana for the future use of teaching and research.
As the world continues to choke on COVID-19 contagious waves and economies declining, knowledge and digitalization could be key powers critical in bringing stability and fast restoration for both social and economic challenges, post the COVID-19 fever.
This was said by Huawei Botswana Managing Director, Ye Huihui, at the launch of Huawei Academy at Botho University on Thursday in Gaborone. Huawei Botswana has invested in the academy that will see two hundred students enrolled for ICT studies and research every year.
“Setting up the Huawei ICT Academy in partnership with Botho University was not an option, rather a must to enable the young generation to learn and use the expertise to safe work and also to bring economical balance to everyone. Huawei, as a solution in the global ICT space, we carry a lot of expertise from technology.
We established through our digitally linked business platform to build a robust internal knowledge community. We will be grateful to share our global cases to this nation and its citizens to help them to ease the way to the recovery process,” said Huihui.
Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Douglas Letsholathebe shared the same sentiments, saying COVID-19 has rapidly morphed into an unprecedented health, economic, sociocultural and geopolitical crisis. The education minister says the impact on the educational sector resulted in the disruption of learning at all levels of education (as evident by the poor performance in the BGCSE).
“The use of ICT has taken precedence in order for institutions to stay afloat in the space of training for the knowledge-based economy. The need to increase access to off campus online teaching and learning is seen as a measure which can support the learning never stops initiative.”
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world. Technology, Letsholathebe says, has made possible new products and services that increase the efficiency and pleasure of people’s personal lives.
Huawei has provided fully equipped labs for the new academy and training materials for various courses worth P350 000. Through these labs, Botho University will target to train more than 200 students per year in the latest technologies such as routing and switching, cloud computing, internet of things, 5G technology, big data, storage and artificial intelligence. Further, students who have demonstrated interest in the ICT sector will get a chance to enrol for the various courses at Huawei Academy for free. The academy will host multiple creative learning resources such as books, lab guides, e-learning and online tests, along with various simulation tools.
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Letshego demonstrated strong business resilience and effective risk management, resulting in robust financial performance for the financial year ended December 2020.
After a challenging first half, the second half of the year saw the start of a recovery in many economies across the group’s footprint, albeit constrained again by a second wave that emerged towards the end of the year, and into 2021. Despite the challenging economic environment, Letshego delivered profit before tax in excess of P1 Billion, bridging the net year on year decrease from 20% in H1, to a single digit of 9% in H2.
Performance was underpinned by 12% growth in net customer advances, and asset quality improved with an overall reduced Loan Loss Ratio of 0.3%. Business resilience was further demonstrated by a reduction in Non-Performing Loans to 5.3%.
Customer access was maintained and enhanced during the financial period under review, thanks to fast tracking of the digitalisation of systems and channels. The group also improved its business performance in the second half of the year compared to the first half.
Net interest income was P1.9 Billion (FY 2019: P2.1 Billion). The outcome, Letshego says, was better than expected with increased pay-out volumes experienced in the second half, improving on first half volumes that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second half pay-outs peaked with the highest net pay-outs for the year of P647 Million recorded in October. According to financials released this week, borrowing costs decreased by 8% year-on-year, with the group progressing on its longer term journey to diversify funding.
Non-funded income reduced by 15% year-on-year, mainly affected by the change in Namibia’s insurance arrangement, which decreased by 21% year-on-year following the initial revision in October 2019 to meet new statutory requirements.
Letshego’s total operation income expenses of P1.9 Billion increased by 1% from 2019. Employee costs increased by 9%. These included one-off exit costs as well as the recruitment of senior resources. Other operating expenses decreased by 4%, although increased expenditure was incurred on advertising, COVID-19-related IT costs and consultancy fees related to building the digital platform, a statement on the financial reveals.
The group demonstrated strong full year 2020 credit performance despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Expected Credit Losses as a percentage of Gross Advances reduced from 7.7% in December 2019 to 5.4% in December 2020 in line with impaired portfolio.
“We recorded a low loan loss ratio of 0.3%, down from 1.7% in 2019 and this was attributable to the release of mobile provisions of P105.3 Million, reversal of COVID-19 provisions on the back of repayment holidays, improvement in asset quality, collections, recoveries and the recovery of single exposure employer partners,” reads the FY 2020 financial statement.
Overall, deposits from customers increased by 56% to P664 Million, as compared to the previous year’s P427 Million. Deposit growth was the result of retail deposits increasing by 46% to P315 Million. The group also saw an increase in corporate deposits (66% to P349 Million). In 2019, corporate deposits closed the year with P210 Million.
The financial statement indicates that liquidity remained stable with year-end cash and cash equivalents at P1 Billion. Letshego says sustained interest from international investors and developmental financial institutions continues to support its liquidity and effective management of debt maturities.
With the ongoing credit scorecard optimization, Letshego says mobile loans provisions reduced by P105.3 Million, with the portfolio enjoying increased stability and continued enhancement in credit risk management. The group indicated in its financial statement that, repayment holidays were granted for loans amounting to P683.7 Million at June comprising of 7% of the group’s total loan portfolio, with additional relief provided via loan restructures.
The group recovered P35 Million during the financial period, with major contributions from improved employer contributions in Eswatini and general provision reversals post closure of payment holiday support.