Providing Lesotho's Children with Keys to the World

This is the story of our efforts to end the vicious cycle of poverty, disease, inadequate education, and early death
in a remote rural community in Lesotho, Africa, by providing quality education and life skills
to the young children there. Join us on our journey ...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sending Money to Lesotho: skip Western Union, go Moneygram

There is no such thing as PayPal in Lesotho, so sometimes it is difficult and very expensive to send money there.

I've been trying to send ~$220 (M2000) to our Volunteer Mamatsepe Sejanamane to cover her transportation to Kokobe Primary School and her first month of living expenses.

International bank transfers, at least from my bank, are outrageously expensive - $75 per transaction (USBank). 

Western Union recently opened an office in Maseru.  They're open 24/7 so you can receive money at anytime.  They charge about 12% + a fee, which seems like highway robbery.  But none of that matters, because their computers have been down for some time, and transfers aren't going through at all.

Another volunteer, Fortunate Gunzo, suggested trying Muruku or MoneyGram. I checked Muruku, but they don't service Lesotho.

I hit the jackpot at MoneyGram.  They have agents at Standard Banks all over Lesotho, including one in Mohale's Hoek.  Their fees are much less than Western Union, $18 for an instant transfer and $10 for a 3-day transfer.  That I can handle.  One slight disadvantage of MoneyGram is that the receiver can only get the money during regular banking hours.

It was fairly easy to send the money.  I was able to make the MoneyGram transfer online using an L2L Visa card.  If you don't have a credit card, you can use a bank account for the online 3-day transfers. 

The verification process was a bit involved.  They asked some questions that amazed me they would know the answers to.  Then they asked me to call to confirm that I knew the person I was sending money to.  There are lots of scams coming from Africa, getting people they don't know to send them money for fraudulent schemes.  Once I convinced MoneyGram I'd met and worked with Mamatsepe in person, they okayed the transfer.  From now on, any transfers to her will be automatically approved.

They gave me a reference number to send to Mamatsepe.  I was a little concerned sending that number via a nonsecured email.  Hopefully, it won't get intercepted and the cash stolen before she gets to the bank. 

She informed me she's gotten the number.  The money will be available as soon as the banks opens.  I(It's Friday night there now.) With luck, she'll be in Kokobe before the end of next week.  YEA!

For future payments, I'm going to try to get a pre-paid reloadable cash-card for her.  I can send the card over to her with Tony in a few weeks.  That way I can go online and load money onto the card once a month, she can withdraw it from an ATM anytime it's convenient for her, and she doesn't have to carry large amounts of cash around.

- Janissa


 

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, I like your blog,
    Ntsane Lepholisa,

    I am a Lesotho resident on an exchange program in the US now for almost 4 months I have a PayPal account linked with my FNB account but the sending limits are tediously low unless you upgrade to premier status which in turn is a bit pricey for me, and that landed m on your page... thanks for the advise I think I will do just that.

    ReplyDelete

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