Flying high in the world of banking
DREAMING BIG: Charlotte Mathula

Having dreamt of a career in the skies as a pilot, a costly mistake by the Education Ministry saw Charlotte Mathula miss out on a scholarship abroad.

Turning her focus to the ground, she settled instead on a Business Management course at University of Botswana.

Aviation’s loss proved banking’s gain.

Now with over 15 years experience in the banking industry, Mathula shares her journey with Voice Money’s KABELO ADAMSON, paying particular attention to her current role as Head of Financial Inclusion at Letshego Financial Services Botswana (LFSB).

As Letshego Head of Financial Inclusion, what does your role entail?

My role is to provide strategic management for Letshego Financial Services Botswana by identifying business growth opportunities and to deliver those through the most cost effective channels.

As the Head of Financial Inclusion for LFSB, my role entails developing appropriate, simple and accessible solutions to our target market.

This often means finding the right solution for a customer that would have otherwise been financially excluded.

I manage the Letshego Botswana sales channels and product development.

And when did you assume office?

I joined Letshego 18 months ago, inspired by how the Group remains committed to extending financial services to underserved communities across Botswana.

We spend so many hours in our professions; it’s empowering to know I work in an organisation that is determined to make a difference through a sustainable commercial strategy!

What is your view on Financial Inclusion in Botswana – do you feel financial institutions are doing enough in this aspect?

Financial inclusion speaks to providing accessible and relevant financial assistance to members of the community who struggle to gain access to traditional banking services and capital to fund small businesses.

Like many other emerging markets in Africa, Botswana’s financial sector is growing.

There are exciting opportunities and technological developments becoming available that will help financial institutions extend the reach of traditional and facilitative financial services to more members of our communities.

Letshego recently launched our mobile app for Direct Sales Agents -it cuts loan processing time in half while increasing customer security, authentication and effective tracking of loan status wherever customers may be located.

Interesting, please continue.

Increasing Financial Inclusion is not something that can be solved by one entity – it’s the collective effort and partnership of government, regulators and financial sector entities that will ensure Botswana progresses in its ambition to bring appropriate financial solutions to more of our population, ultimately boosting economic development.

Some policies that could be reviewed is possibly KYC (Know Your Customer).

Current policy requirements call for proof of a regular source of income, which makes it challenging for those who are self-employed to meet this criteria.

Letshego strives to be a sustainable partner for all our stakeholders in improving financial inclusion.

Being a proudly Botswana company, having opened our doors in Gaborone 21 years ago, we feel we not only understand the needs of the broader population, but can deliver solutions that improve the lives of individuals.

Botswana has a Financial Inclusion Roadmap and Strategy.

What is your take on it and does it address all the challenges relating to financial inclusion in the country?

The Financial Inclusion Roadmap and Strategy is a positive step towards directing the financial sector to support more of the local population with sustainable financial services and solutions.

The groundwork has begun and the foundation has been set – we now need to collaborate to achieve impact.

This will involve reviewing policies, regulatory and supervisory frameworks, and investment in technologies and systems to ensure we create a framework that supports a robust and inclusive financial services sector.

Mobile banking and agency banking will play a facilitative role in increasing financial inclusion that stands to increase the number of active contributors to our economic health and development.

What inspired you to choose a career in banking?

Banking chose me! If I wasn’t in banking, I would have been a pilot.

The mix-up at the Ministry of Education resulted in me in missing my sponsorship to study abroad.

I then moved on to study Business Management at the University of Botswana.

My first job straight from University was as a temporary employee at one of the commercial banks.

I always joke and say the salary was less than my UB allowance – but I gained experience and expanded my horizons and after 12years I returned to that first employer, in a senior executive role.

Share with us your journey in the banking industry?

I have been very fortunate in my career to have had leaders who believed in my potential and set me up for success.

Graduating from UB in 2004, I had no idea I would achieve the milestones I have in my 15yearsin the financial services sector.

My career spans across customer services, sales, branch banking, and product development predominantly in the retail lending space.

I started off at FNBBotswana as a temp for a few months.

From there, I joined the Botswana Building Society (BBS) Graduate Programme.

Two years later, I was promoted to the role of Branch Manager, a role that helped me to grow professionally.

When I left BBS in 2008, I joined Standard Chartered Bank where I held different roles spanning from Customer Services and Sales Manager, Head of Sales Channels for Business Banking before ultimately finding my true passion in Retail Lending as Product Development Manager for Home and Car loans.

I was appointed the Africa Regional Head for Home Loans and Car loans in 2015, based in Nairobi, Kenya, taking care of a couple of countries in the African continent.

I came back home and assumed the role of Head of Retail Lending, still with Stanchart looking after Home Loans, Personal Loans and Car Loans.

I returned to FNBBotswana 12 years later as the Head of Retail Lending, with home loans, personal loans and credit cards in my portfolio before joining Letshego in 2018.