History/evolution of select
African Alliance, the majority shareholder of the Select Africa Group, commenced its Unit Trust Business in Eswatini some 20 years ago. This enabled small investors to buy and invest in units of African Alliance’s investment fund. After a while, it became apparent that clients inexplicably were regularly withdrawing funds from the long term investment scheme. Subsequent research indicated that investors were withdrawing funds to fund their short – term borrowing needs, particularly for household expenditure. This gave rise to the strategic decision to start offering short term consumer loans. Thus, the first branch of our microfinance business, Select Africa, was started in 1999.
Within 4 years, our loan book size had swelled to SZL60m in Eswatini. Over time, we expanded operations to other countries. The Lesotho business opened its doors in 2007, the Kenyan business started in late 2008 and the Malawi office opened in 2009. In 2008, the decision was made to centralize all administration and processing functions in Mauritius in a single Business Process Outsourcing hub.
An independent research study conducted in Eswatini in 2007 showed that 38% of Select’s borrowers actually used their micro-loans for housing purposes and not solely for consumption purpose. This prompted Select to start investigating the housing microfinance market as a likely source of business growth.
Following the study, Select’s focus shifted to providing loans for housing requirements. In 2012 Select Malawi entered into a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to provide Construction Technical Assistance (CTA) to Select’s clients wishing to build houses. Thus started the evolution of Select’s housing focus.