The taxi industry has come a long way in recent years and now it is finally staking its claim to a position of influence in the mainstream economy. It is bewildering that an industry that is the oldest, most resilient symbol of black capital accumulation has only concluded a major transaction so long after South Africa’s black economic empowerment (BEE) policy was adopted in the early 1990s. The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) recently announced a R1.7bn empowerment deal to acquire a 25% stake in SA Taxi, a subsidiary of Transaction Capital that specialises in sales, financing and insurance of minibus taxis. This vertically integrated vehicle finance subsidiary has succeeded in a market few financiers dare venture into. Taxi operators are considered high-risk borrowers due to their generally poor or nonexistent credit profiles, and because the industry has an equally poor road safety record and is prone to violent conflict. Many operators do not qualify for vehicle finance from t...

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