By Thandiwe Kubere

MASERU – Standard Lesotho Bank officially presented its new kid on the block- the FutureFlex account, which is tailored specially for the youth to help solve the financial challenges they encounter, as well as to offer a hand in their financial freedom and bringing convenience while at it.  

The blue bank of Lesotho introduced the FutureFlex account through a webinar, engaging youth to share their views and hear a panel of experts respond to questions they had concerning finances. Opening the conversation, Financial Wellness Advocate and Author Tokiso Nthebe said, “Today is really about you-the youth, the trail blazers who are setting trends and making their headway.”

It has been discovered that a significant percentage of Basotho does not have the necessary applicable knowledge of finance, and that seemingly hinders their growth. Therefore, with an evident need for financial education, Standard Lesotho Bank intends to capacitate the youth to become economical and develop the right financial habits from a young age. It aims to achieve this through their Youth Value Proposition (YVP) which includes the new FutureFlex Youth Account, financial wellness coaching and professional master classes amongst others.

FutureFlex was described to be a transactional account geared towards creating value for youth between the ages of 16 and 27 who aspire to build a better future. The aim is to meet the specific needs of young people and bring lifestyle benefits through partnering with other stakeholders who have a similar vision. The new account introduces a newly designed youth card, costing M26 in monthly fees.

Some of the account’s unique features include; monthly data, no charges for swiping at point of sale terminals, free ATM withdrawals, free internet banking/online transactions, free access to financial wellness lessons and self-service enabled savings account.

 In further bringing convenience and comfort to the youth, the blue bank of Lesotho also partnered with the countries’ telecommunications giants, to offer free monthly data to students who are still in high school, as another step in contributing in their learning journey, ensuring they access the internet without hassles. Students are guaranteed a 400MB data bundle monthly for VCL subscribers and ETL subscribers get 800MB.

The bank was inspired to establish the youth centric account after realizing the significance of their role in the community and country at large. Standard Lesotho Bank Head of Personal Banking on youth segment Mr. Teboho Sello said, “Our main purpose is to enable our youth to create a better future for themselves. We aid them in building their flex and making their dreams come true by advising them on smart financial decisions and saving. The future of our country is upon young people, so we understand their needs and are taking a further step in assisting them with what matters to them. So this motivated us to go back and engineer a value proposition which talks to their needs”. 

He further stated one of the steps the bank took was establishing a youth bursary fund which equips about fifty high school students per annum. This is initiative started last year in 2022, making this the second year the bank offers it. He stated they came across many young people who sought proper ways of handling money, so this was to meet them halfway.

“We are aware that the government is already helping those at tertiary level, so we decided to help less privileged students to build their future and set their goals. So, we help them with school fees and purchasing uniform, we also give them monthly stipends so that they are able to build a good start for their future.” He continually assured that their doors are always open to those who have interest in becoming part of the bursary, especially those who are less privileged.

Again, the bank reached and positively impacted the lives of over 10 000 young people through a National Career Expo, which directed them towards the career paths they dream of pursuing. Amongst other things, the bank started professional master classes a few months ago on a small scale to help equip young people with relevant skills for the workforce. “After engaging with institutions of higher learning in Lesotho, we realized that there is a gap of what students are taught in lecture rooms and what they experience in the cooperate world. So we are trying to bridge that gap by bringing professionals to different faculties of higher learning, where students are educated more about the practical side of what they are learning towards”, said Sello.  

Sello stated Standard Lesotho Bank has consistently been engaging with the youth and supporting their initiatives over the years. In projects such as Bacha Entrepreneurship Project, where they fund the ideas of young entrepreneurs, through seed capitals and appropriate training for running businesses and making them a success. He revealed the bank has thus far given almost four million as seed capital fund for youth businesses.

Realising the youth’s ambition and the great dreams they have for the future, the bank offers graduates a training program, where good performing learners from different institutions are brought in for training and later absorbed as permanent employees of the bank.

One of the panellists who is also an entrepreneur, Halifele Khoeli-popularly known as Mavele, declared his interest for the conversation comes from his strong desire to help young people grow in their different fields and become better individuals through exposure to opportunities just as he was. “As an ambitious young person who is passionate about youth and has done so much from a young age, I am excited to be in a space where I can help others get similar or even better opportunities”, He said. He declared this conversation was important because it would pave a way towards financial freedom. “When you are financially free, you are able to think straight, set goals and make decisions about your future rather than being depressed due to not being able to take further steps of progress in life”.

Mavele also advised young entrepreneurs to record and account for everything that happens in their businesses so that they qualify for funding and are able to expand their businesses. “Getting funding comes from the responsibility of accounting for every cent that goes in and comes out of your business. You do not need a fancy recording system; receipts, pen and a book offer a great start in record keeping. That way, all the operations of the business can be noted”, he said.

Nthebe also advised that financial freedom needs discipline, and having a savings account joint with the FutureFlex account will help the youth develop the habit of saving which will help them in the long run as they build their “flex” and a bright future. “A saving mentality will help them with money discipline which will further allow their money to work for them through investments in the future. One does not need to have a lot of money to save, from what they have they can decide on a sum of money they can put away, it will not be easy the first time they do it because the cost of living is high, but with the right discipline they can easily get into the habit of saving and further advance into investing.”

For one to open the FutureFlex account, they need an Identification document, proof of residence (letter from the chief), Proof of income if one is already working or letter of a providing parent if one is not yet working and an admission letter if one is attending institutions of higher learning. By opening this account which assures a lifestyle relevance, the youth stand a chance to win a share of M20 000 and a trolley dash worth M3 000 if they use their card at POS terminals.