Brian Sokutu
Senior Print Journalist
3 minute read
18 Nov 2021
11:01 am

YWBN founder Nthabeleng Likotsi gears up to take on the banking industry

Brian Sokutu

Likotsi is consulting with, among others, legend of South African black business - Sam Motsuenyane

Young Women in Business Network (YWBN) CEO Nthabeleng Likotsi. Picture: Supplied

For Young Women in Business Network (YWBN) CEO Nthabeleng Likotsi, gaining the much-needed depth of understanding the intricacies in the world of banking has taken her to many heights – including consulting with a legend of South African black business – Sam Motsuenyane.

Likotsi, the first black South African woman and youngest in the world to establish a mutual bank, founded the YWBN in 2009.

Her objective was bringing together a network of black professionals and businesswomen, to share experiences in investing and running a business.

In 2014, she stuck to the idea of establishing the YWBN co-operative financial institution (CFI) – a recognised entity capable of providing banking services to its members.

ALSO READ: Women-owned bank gears to help the unbanked

Her understanding of CFI was that the entity operated on the grounds of “a “glorified stokvel”.

YWBN is targeting underserved and unbanked black entrepreneurs

“There is no bank in South Africa that purely understands black entrepreneurs and how we behave,” said Likotsi.

YWBN’s launch has stirred a debate in the banking sector, on how far the industry has transformed to serve black entrepreneurs, most of whom lack collateral to be granted loans.

“I am a start-up entrepreneur, and I always felt like these banks could never understand my needs.

“I am so grateful for YWBN Mutual Bank, because I will finally be able to achieve my goals and dreams through them,” says entrepreneur Lesego Motala.

Likotsi told The Citizen how, over the past few months, she has been consulting with various banking and business leaders, including Motsuenyane.

YWBN founder ready to tackle the banking industry
Young Women in Business Network (YWBN) CEO Nthabeleng Likotsi with mentor Sam Motsuenyane. Photo: Supplied

She is now in the process of establishing the YWBN Mutual Bank as a fully-fledged operation – in line with the letter of authorisation granted to her by the South African Reserve Bank’s Prudential Authority.

ALSO READ: Making sense of YWBN Mutual Bank

“My journey of seeing YWBN’s vision come to fruition, is highly inspired by Dr Motsuenyane,” she said.

Motsuenyane, who has called on government to support small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), has always pushed black South Africans to become entrepreneurs, instead of being employees.

“We need black South Africans to become job creators, instead of just becoming job seekers. I want them to embrace the spirit of entrepreneurship,” Motsuenyane told Likotsi.

Motsuenyane, 94, was president of the largest known African business organisation, the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc), in the 1970s and 1980s.

He played a significant role in the development of black business in South Africa, and has received several awards, including the Sowetan Business Award, Harvard Business Club Award, the Sunday Times Business Awards, Free Market Award and several others from the Nafcoc’s regional chambers.

Over the course of his 60 years in business, Motsuenyane has dabbled in everything from retail to banking.

Having run Nafcoc during apartheid, he has experience with doors being closed on him on the basis of skin colour, but he persevered.

During his 24-year tenure as Nafcoc president, various businesses and companies were founded, including African Bank Limited.

You can find out more about the YWBN platform here.