April 4 2010: Handbag in hand and cellphone to her ear, a well dressed 20-something comes out of a cash loan building and no sooner had she closed the door, looking a little intimidated if not embarrassed, than she started fiddling with her phone as she walks away quickly.
The recent past years have seen a significant boom in the number of micro lenders, popularly known as Cash Loans in Botswana, an indication that there is huge demand for such a service yet many people are still ashamed to be seen entering or leaving such an establishment.
“Many people feel embarrassed to come to us because they view cash loans as being for the poor or irresponsible,” says ‘General’, an employee at cash king. “That is a misconception; we have clients from all walks of life and of varying incomes. Some of our highest earning clients get up to P80 000 per month down to others who earn P500. Some people even make money out of us by taking up a loan at a 15 percent interest rate then re-lend it out charging a higher interest, thereby making profits for themselves.”
‘General’ says people need to acknowledge the fact that they provide a service similar to that of any bank only that theirs is short term and even easier to acquire, citing that it would be very difficult for one to acquire a loan in a few hours from any bank no matter what emergency one has.
Another employee at Cash Corp, who does not want to be named, tells of the embarrassed look on people’s faces when meeting friends or colleagues lined up for help at a Cash Loan outlet.
“We have had an occasion when a director and two of her juniors bumped into each other here and the senior started hiding her face and whispering so low I could barely hear a word she was saying. People come in here and don’t even greet or communicate with other customers; they just walk in and wait silently in the queue until they get served then leave as quick as they had entered. On rare occasions will you find clients talking amongst themselves.”
She added that people need to give cash loans the recognition that it deserves.