Credit bureau ex­pands to cor­po­rates

Lesotho Times - - Busi­ness - Bereng Mpaki

LE­SOTHO’S credit bureau has ex­panded its scope by gath­er­ing busi­ness credit in­for­ma­tion in ad­di­tion to col­lect­ing data for in­di­vid­u­als.

The bureau, which is man­aged by South African firm Com­pus­can, was for­mally launched by the Cen­tral Bank of Le­sotho in Jan­uary 2016. It was estab­lished un­der the Credit In­for­ma­tion Shar­ing project to im­prove ac­cess to fi­nance in Le­sotho by pro­vid­ing a sta­ble and pre­dictable credit mar­ket.

A credit bureau refers to an in­sti­tu­tion that col­lects and main­tains in­di­vid­ual credit in­for­ma­tion to sell or dis­trib­ute to lenders, cred­i­tors and con­sumers. The credit bureau had ini­tially tar­geted in­di­vid­ual bor­row­ers rather than busi­nesses for an­a­lyz­ing and shar­ing their credit in­for­ma­tion.

Af­ter con­quer­ing some ini­tial teething prob­lems, the bureau then cast its net wider to busi­nesses.

Com­pus­can Coun­try Man­ager ‘Man­nete Kho­tle, this week told the Le­sotho Times they were happy with the progress made thus far. Com­pus­can pro­vides con­sumer and com­mer­cial credit in­for­ma­tion within South Africa and other African na­tions.

“We are cur­rently at a stage where credit providers are ac­tu­ally mak­ing use of the credit in­for­ma­tion sys­tem to check the cred- it­wor­thi­ness of their prospec­tive clients be­fore de­cid­ing whether to give them credit or not, and we are there­fore happy that we are mov­ing on from the in­for­ma­tion sub­mis­sion stage,” Ms Kho­tle said.

She said apart from com­mer­cial banks, mi­cro fi­nance in­sti­tu­tions were also be­gin­ning to use their sys­tems. How­ever, cloth­ing and fur­ni­ture re­tail­ers were yet to come on board.

Ac­cord­ing to the Credit Re­port­ing Act of 2011, all credit pro­vid­ing es­tab­lish­ments are re­quired to sub­mit their credit in­for­ma­tion to the credit bureau for risk man­age­ment by credit providers be­fore de­cid­ing whether to give out credit to a prospec­tive bor­rower or not.

“This year we will be start­ing to process the credit in­for­ma­tion of cor­po­rates to en­sure their credit wor­thi­ness,” said Ms Kho­tle.

“Our in­ten­tion is to pen­e­trate the en­tire credit mar­ket of Le­sotho in or­der to re­duce the level of in­debt­ed­ness in the coun­try and, in so do­ing, en­cour­age safe lend­ing which will def­i­nitely have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the coun­try’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.”

The bureau also in­tends to con­tinue hold­ing pub­lic aware­ness cam­paigns specif­i­cally tar­get­ing con­sumers.

“This is mainly to ed­u­cate the peo­ple about what we are all about, and hope­fully that will help dis­pel some mis­con­cep­tions some seem to have about what a credit bureau is. We are not debt col­lec­tors or black-lis­ters as some peo­ple seem to be­lieve.”

Le­sotho Mi­cro Fi­nance As­so­ci­a­tion chair­per­son Ma­maka­mane Maka­mane said they were do­ing all they could to com­ply with the Credit Re­port­ing Act of 2011 although it was not easy as most of their mem­bers were still us­ing man­ual sys­tems of record keep­ing.

“We are try­ing our best to com­ply with the law, but I be­lieve this will not just be an overnight thing be­cause our mem­bers are mi­cro en­ter­prises that largely de­pend on man­u­ally record­ing their credit in­for­ma­tion,” she said.

“So, we first have to ac­quire com­put­ers, and then get the req­ui­site skills to in­stall the credit sys­tem into the com­put­ers to start sub­mit­ting in­for­ma­tion to the credit bureau.”

Ms Maka­mane added they were in the process se­cur­ing com­puter skills train­ing for their mem­bers who come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds with some be­ing re­trenched mine work­ers and or­di­nary peo­ple.

“We there­fore hope the reg­u­la­tor will be le­nient enough to al­low us the nec­es­sary time for our mem­bers to be able to com­ply. It is a long-term process,” she said

LE­SOTHO Mi­cro Fi­nance As­so­ci­a­tion chair­per­son Ma­maka­mane Maka­mane.

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