Blue Financial Service, the down- market financial outfit listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s (JSE’s) venture capital board on Thursday as part of its concerted moves to raise cash to fund its new products to be introduced across the southern African region.
The company which operates in seven southern African countries is aiming to roll-out new products such as mortgage loans ÔÇô targeted towards the lower classesÔÇöand at the same time try to increase its shareholders value. It has operations in Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zanzibar and Zambia and it is planning to go into Kenya and Cameroon soon.
BSF floated 320 million shares which prices jumped from 100 cents to 121 cents at market opening on Thursday. And it is planning a dual listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange in the coming year as part of capital raising and its driven for citizen economic empowerment within the sub-region.
Dave van Niekerk, Blue’s chief executive officer said Blue is currently negotiating with various partners to widen its product range in Botswana and other countries. The products that as to be rolled-out include, bridge financing, salary advances, home improvement loans, home-ownership drive, funeral insurance, pension and provident fund and cell-phones solutions to the blue collar workers.
The move is part of its plans to expand its range of service which has been firmly rooted in micro-financial services.
The company has also entered into a strategic partnership with AIG Capital Partners valued at R 15 million aimed at shoring its image and financial standing in regional markets and its also negotiating with some fund management companies in southern Africa.
The pro-poor organization with a raft of financial products said its initiatives are aligned with the objectives of NEPAD ( New Economic Partnership for Africa) which are aimed at fishing Africa out of poverty.
“By riding the current of the newly emerging middle-class in South Africa and neighbouring countries, Blue has opened previously untapped markets in the financial sector by providing legitimate financial solutions to those who previously were denied access to the market,” the company had said.
“Blue has found that traditional banking systems and banks as a whole in the African environment are not as advanced electronically as their peers in other areas of the globe, and they are not addressing abroad range of the needs of their customers.
“Sub-Saharan banks are very risk averse and as such many employers are forced to become involved in providing housing to their staff or providing benefits or credit that their personnel can not obtain elsewhere,” it added.
The provision of financial services in countries like Botswana where close to 60 percent of the working people are said to be unbanked is a critical factor as that population is shunned by the traditional banks.
The company is one of the major players in Botswana’s micro-finance with two other major ones being the Botswana Stock Exchange listed Letshego Holdings and Penrich Employee Benefits. The company is already tapping on government’s liberalization policy which is geared towards automatic deduction of salaries from source which used to be tightly controlled.