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Move to expand banking coverage among the poor

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — Lesotho PostBank has joined hands with the World Savings Bank Institute (WSBI) to increase banking coverage among the poor.
The WSBI is an international banking association that seeks to promote savings and retail banking among the poor.
Lesotho PostBank chief executive officer, Mpho Vumbukani, said the bank was excited to be working with WSIB in expanding banking services to Basotho.
“We are excited to be working with WSIB in expanding even further our existing services to more people in Lesotho.
“Ensuring that poorer people have formal savings accounts is important for the financial stability of the families involved and the general well being of the economy of Lesotho,” Vumbukani said.
At least 10 banks have been selected to participate in a project being run by WSIB to increase the number of savings accounts among the poor.
The selected banks are from Lesotho, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Morocco, El Salvador, Indonesia and Vietnam.
All the banks that were selected have “strong traditions of working with lesser advantaged populations,” according to a press statement by Lesotho PostBank and WSBI.
According to the press release, research by the World Bank suggests that building domestic savings helps the poor get out of poverty.
It said setting aside small amounts of money allows people to guard against risks such as illness or crop failure, build assets and provide opportunities for the next generation.
Lesotho PostBank works closely with the Lesotho Postal Services which has a network of 47 post offices.
The bank operates in 12 of the branches around the country.
According to Lesotho PostBank, the bank mobilised savings deposits totalling US$19.5 million.
The bank is currently expanding its services in line with its mandate to provide financial services to the unbanked community.
 “In 2010 the LPB will launch micro-lending services with the support of the Rural Financial Intermediation Programme funded by the International Fund for Agriculture Development and Lesotho government,” said the statement.
Chris De Noose, the managing director of WSBI, said savings banks were leading the way in providing banking services to people.
“Savings banks around the world are already leading the way in providing access to financial services for people in general.
“In Lesotho this is a great opportunity to work with Lesotho PostBank in order to expand financial services and financial security even further,” said De Noose.
The project is supported by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Lesotho PostBank is owned by the government of Lesotho and was formed in 2004.
The bank seeks to provide financial services to under-served Basotho in urban and previously un-served rural areas.

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