Nthabeleng Likotsi is set to become the first woman to own a mutual bank in South Africa, but this prospect has been met with criticism and concern.
The public questioned the R1 000 membership fee that members would have to pay to join the Young Women Business Network (YWBN) Mutual Bank, and the time frame for investors to see returns on their investments, IOL reports.
According to News24, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has approved her ownership of a mutual bank but has not yet granted a licence to operate. Even if there’s a chance that the SARB may not grant the licence, Likotsi called on black South Africans to believe that this is a risk worth taking.
“Even though the co-operative is in its establishment phase it’s not a scam,” she said.
— Own the Bank (@OwntheBankYWBN) June 10, 2021
As mentioned by a news publication, Likotsi also addressed the concerns and doubts surrounding her new venture by saying:
“In South Africa black women, especially in the financial sector, are marginalised. We are not represented in senior positions, so this is a big deal to people.
“People have a problem that the bank is pro-black.
“We can only do our best. I just don’t understand why people think we could be a scam. We are developing something for black people but its the same black people who were excluded before who doubt us.
“Giving up is not even an option. It’s not even on the table. All we can do is go on and re-assure people we are not a scam,“ she added.
I believed I could, I STARTED.
I believed ordinary Afrikans will support my vision, THEY DID.
It took us 4+ years but who was counting anyway 😜
Together we got approved for the First Women Owned Bank in the history of South Africa.
— Nthabeleng Likotsi (@MissNthabeleng) March 25, 2021
She stated that the YWBN Mutual Bank aims to understand the needs of small businesses, and strives to be a bank that finally gives the informal sector access to credit while helping South Africans get back their spaza shops in the townships, News24 reports.
However, if the SARB doesn’t grant the licence, there will be a process to refund investors, minus the establishment costs and then, as Likotsi says, “life carries on”.
When Likotsi was asked what the founding shareholders brings to the table, she said “The expensive letter” from the SARB, which means that the first cent towards establishing the bank will come from the public, News24 explains.
“The funders will be contributing this expensive letter. It is very expensive. It has no value. So, that’s what we are contributing to establishing this. But more than anything else, we are also saying that we are going to be working in the six-year period to grow the R5 billion. So, it’s not in monetary value,” she said.
The YWBN Mutual Bank said it will use less than R100 million of the R5 billion that it’s hoping to raise for establishment costs.
The mutual bank is set to be digital and a phone app will be used for all the banking activities.