KENNEDY BUNGANE: African Bank transformation strategy gives wings to founders’ vision
African Bank recently unveiled its transformation strategy, named Excelerate25, through which it aims to leverage its rich heritage, diversify its business and build a customer-centric, data-driven, scalable and digital-first business. Part of that journey includes the recruitment of talented professionals with the necessary passion, skills and capabilities to join this movement.
Underpinning the bank’s new journey is the proposition of being audacious, as encapsulated in our new tagline, "Audacity to Believe". It is informed by the bank’s audacious heritage: in the mid-1960s its pioneering founders came together to create a bank “owned by the people, for the people, serving the people”. They started with a mere R70. In just over a decade they were able to turn that into a successful financial institution.
The African Bank story is often told from the perspective of the challenges it has had to overcome, rather than the reason for its existence. That reason, which lies at the core of its formation, was to find solutions for the structural challenges of exclusion experienced by the majority of South Africans. The visionaries who founded African Bank, led by pioneers such as Dr Sam Motsuenyane and Dr Richard Maponya, set themselves a core mission of building a bank for the people by the people, serving the people. This, in effect, meant banking the people of SA at a time when no-one else would. If that is not audacity, then tell me how you would understand the word.
That core mission remains at the heart of the bank. That is why our strategy moving forward to 2025 necessitates a return to our roots. The bank was originally envisioned as an institution that would transcend material economic limitations, one that sought to understand the aspirations of entrepreneurs, their households, their children and communities, to partner and grow with them for financial success. African Bank is not merely a bank with a mission. Rather, it is a mission manifesting itself as a bank.
Despite our strategic investment in digital operations, many consumers still rely on in-person banking and should not be left behind, and so we have implemented a hybrid model both online and in branches. The digital transition will be assisted by the bank’s recent partnership with Blue Label Telecoms. This partnership showcases African Bank’s strategic integration of its services, building alliances and ecosystems for a seamless customer journey. It speaks to African Bank’s adoption of an open architecture approach, in which like-minded organisations and individuals will be brought into the fold to create holistic, customer-centric banking solutions.
African Bank is committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve their aspirations by providing solutions related to accounting, tax, payroll and other considerations that transcend the scope of banking. This means that entrepreneurs will soon have access to a network of support, helping them to better focus on growing their business. This will be spearheaded by Zweli Manyathi, who brings with him close to 40 years of experience in the financial sector. These ecosystems are an integral part of how the bank plans to engage with SMMEs and entrepreneurs.
To this end, we are putting out a call to talented professionals and partners who are aligned to the African Bank mission and who are passionate about advancing lives and aspirations through customer-centric solutions and propositions. This isn’t simply about a career in banking, it is about joining a movement designed to make a real difference.
• Bungane is CEO of African Bank.
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