By: Thandiwe Kubere

Standard Lesotho Bank on Saturday hosted a grand showcase of Car and Home EXPO, putting to spotlight the bank’s innovations in automotive and home related industries.  This occasion, which invited the public at large to attend, was held at Maseru Mall.

Standard Lesotho Bank Car and Home EXPO is an annual event which has evolved for over ten years, working collaboratively with Maseru Mall since its inception. It is normally hosted on the last week of November/ first week of December. SLB Marketing Manager- Communications and Sponsorship, Mr. Manyathela Kheleli stated that the event started more as a Car Expo, where the bank would call car dealerships in Lesotho and South Africa as a way of bringing services to the community, because most of the dealers are in South Africa.

This means when one wanted to purchase a car, they had to travel all the way to Bloemfontein, Bethlehem or other regions to inquire and look for a car of their choice, which met their expectation with different features, conducting test drives, and all those resulted in even more costs being incurred. To try and save clients from those costs, the bank deemed it fit to showcase products and services, as a form of catalogue, to make informed decisions and therefore boost sales.

“So we saw an opportunity as a bank- either selling cars or financing them, we deemed it wise to call dealers on board that we may collaborate. For events like this, we invite our clients and Basotho who are interested in cars, and we make them aware of what is available in the market”, he said.

He further declared that dealers also give helpful insights and secure deals with clients, who in turn approach the bank for assisting with the vehicles financing though loan facilities.

“The event has grown phenomenally over the years and we finance every vehicle that has a serial number. This means we finance private, commercial and agricultural machinery. We finance personal vehicles, trucks, yellow goods vehicles, those for construction, we also finance helicopters and that is the strength of our bank in terms of financing those kinds of assets.

Kheleli indicated that as a way of contributing towards the government’s goal of enhancing the country’s agricultural sector, the bank is currently facilitating the financing of tractors for effective farming. “We even have a dedicated agriculture portfolio, there are agricultural economics hired by the bank since they have expertise in that field and we want to contribute meaningfully”, he said.

Moreover, this year’s EXPO promised a transformative shift towards bolstering agriculture development within Lesotho by showcasing how the Bank, through its Vehicle and Asset Finance (VAF) products can also provide loans for various types of agricultural machinery to provide Basotho the leverage to increase capacity for production in the agriculture sector, particularly loans for farmers to buy tractors. The inclusion of more tractors and agricultural machinery dealerships marks a strategic move to support and advance the agricultural sector in Lesotho.

By expanding its focus to include the agricultural segment more, the Bank aims to foster greater accessibility to cutting-edge machinery, crucial for driving the country’s agricultural growth. This is because Standard Lesotho Bank recognizes the important role agriculture plays in the nation’s development, hence this expansion in the EXPO’s offerings closely aligns with the Bank’s commitment to not just meet but exceed the evolving needs of clients and the community at large.

 Regarding property, Kheleli enlightened that the bank offers home loans and finance personal homes, housing projects of commercial nature, tenders for building bridges. “We have brought a lot of companies we work with in that space, including the likes of property developers, engineering companies which conduct different operations, and hardware companies to display their products”, he said.

“We are proud as Standard Lesotho bank because we have realized that this year, 2023, our loan book in the property market is in excess of M2 billion worth of property and we want to believe that this is a big investment opportunity for Basotho to better their lives”, he said.

The EXPO serves as a pivotal platform created by the Bank, aiming to bridge the gap between diverse automotive and housing options as well as the community. Attendees we assured to expect a dynamic experience, encountering a range of exhibitors showcasing an assortment of tractors, and machinery, as well as an extended collection of cars and housing options. It further promised to facilitate networking opportunities, informative sessions, and exclusive deals for attendees keen on exploring the latest offerings in automotive, housing, and agricultural domains.

The event opened with a convoy of top-end vehicles and plant machinery on display. It also featured music and entertainment, with lots of prizes on offer for attendees. It further displayed latest trends and offers in secured lending and assets, demonstrating its commitment to growing Lesotho and her people and the Bank’s purpose which says, “Lesotho is our home, we drive her growth”. To date, the Bank has raised a combined lending book of over M2 billion in homes and assets in the country, which is unparalleled.