By Thandiwe Kubere
The central bank of Lesotho, in collaboration with different financial institutions launched the Lesotho money month 2023 event in Butha Buthe in order to educate the nation, especially the youth, about wisely spending and planning ahead for the future.
Money month Lesotho by the central bank of Lesotho and financial stakeholders has been up and running for ten years now with a similar goal of equipping Basotho with the necessary skills and techniques of managing their financial resources effectively. For years, the campaign has been a success and the perception around money has been somehow different. This year’s focus is particularly on youth with the theme “plan your money, plant your future.”
The money month campaign for this year is set to take place in two districts which are Buthe-Buthe and Maseru. The first week was planned to sensitize the residents of Butha Buthe about the important ways of using money and equipping them with the right skills of handling finances. The financial education steering committee (FESC) engaged a wide range of stakeholders on financial management such to educate people about basic issues such as budgeting, saving, insurance and investments. The district administrator Ts’epa Chaba, expressed his gratitude on behalf of Butha-Buthe’s residents for including the district on such a significant and life changing event.
The central bank of Lesotho as well as different financial institutions came to a realization that the youth does not pay enough attention or take into serious consideration the necessity of planning ahead in order to have a bright future when there is still enough strength and a greater chance of starting. The chairperson of FESC therefore expressed that pension or retirement fund is not necessarily for old people as it is most of the time perceived. He emphasized that the youth normally look away at the mention of pension and often think it does not affect them yet, whereas it is wise to have that fund early in preparation of the future when there is still enough time to do so. According to the committee, it is rightfully even wiser to have that conversation at the early stages of one’s career for better understanding and there is no better time than now.
Saving or investing money has seemingly been a challenge to the youth due to a number of reasons or circumstance. Some have short term savings and eventually use the money after some time because their income is not enough to sustain their needs and go into savings at the same time. Thato Kholoane in her late twenties voiced that due to lack of experience they struggle finding stable jobs and a steady source of income hence their inability to save and service their monthly financial commitments. While for others, it takes time to consider saving or investing due to relying on their parents so they have not felt the need to do so.
According to Khahliso Motholo who is in her early twenties, it is hard to keep up with the monthly subscriptions which are required for a savings account especially now when she does not have the financial means or a steady source of income. She also emphasized that she prefers investing over saving because money loses value due to inflation. Here she used an example that the amount of things that could previously be covered with M1000 can no longer be covered with a similar amount. “With investing, it means I am adding to my money because if I put M500 in an investing platform, I am going to get it back as M650 after some time, unlike with savings.”
The governor of the central bank of Lesotho, Emmanuel Maluke Letete therefore urged the youth to set financial goals regardless of the challenges. A financial goal is described as any goal one has for their money and it can either be long term or short term depending on how small or big their plan is. Setting money aside can save the day in times of hardships and can help one to better plan their future.
The chairperson of microfinance association, Nthole Mojapela further ensured that the association has been established to support and offer minor loans to those who do not qualify for back loans and are less privileged. This applies to young entrepreneurs who are just starting out and do not have the financial muscle to sustain their businesses in this case. “We are here to give easy access of finance. We are a mouth-piece, a voice to the voiceless for those who are not able to face the regulators and policy makers.” This he said to motivate and give hope that there is financial support in case the road gets rocky.
Accentuating how much the time for handling money in an uncertain and risky manner is overdue, the representative of mobile money users, ‘Maleseli Mohapinyane expressed that the mobile money companies have developed products which are safe and user-friendly. She highlighted that previously, in order for money to reach one’s desired destination, it would take long moving from one person to another resulting in uncertainty and sometimes loss. Therefore, with the developed products from different companies in the country, one can now easily and affordably send money either nationally or internationally in an instant.
In order to encourage the presence and engagement of the youth in money matters, the FESC planned a number of activities to gain participation of the youth for the year 2023, money month campaign. This includes going to school halls where students from different schools come together and call them to financial discussions, debates and competitions so as to make their learning interesting while equipping them with financial skills and understanding at the same time. The stakeholders also held sporting activities as a means of communicating with the youth in a language they understand. They also assured that their doors are always open for advices and support where it is needed.