HALALA
14/06/2018 06:02 SAST | Updated 14/06/2018 06:42 SAST

Meet The Entrepreneur Keen To Launch SA's First Black Female-Owned Bank

'You can't talk economic freedom if you do not have a financial institution; you need a bank that will support black entrepreneurs.'

Nthabeleng Likotsi failed her Certificate in Theory of Accounting (CTAs) several times, but now she is on the verge of opening the first black women-owned bank in South Africa.

She was born and bred in Botshabelo, Free State, and her family had a big interest in entrepreneurship.

"My parents have been in business for over 33 years. They have a school-uniform factory and shops in Free State. All my siblings are in business," she told HuffPost.

After accepting that she had no future as an accountant, she decided to join the rest of her family and start a business.

"I started Young Women in Business Network (YMBN), but somewhere halfway through I decided to do my master's in entrepreneurship," the 33-year-old said.

Her passion for entrepreneurship came "naturally" — she says her family has always been an inspiration.

"My family played a huge role in terms of business and the person that I am, particularly because my parents are leaders in their own right, so I saw how to work with people, how they gave themselves to the community, so for me, that comes [naturally]."

In history we have the women who have fought for our political freedom – not just women, but older people. And the question that has always been asked, is what is the younger generation doing?

Likotsi and her team will be submitting their registration documents to open a bank on Friday.

She plans to call it Young Women in Business Network (YMBN) Mutual, because of the symbolism the name has. The businesswoman says it time for young women to take initiative and make a change in their communities.

"In history, we have the women who have fought for our political freedom – not just women, but older people. And the question that has always been asked, is what is the younger generation doing? So the young woman is simply responding to that," she said.

That is why Likotsi and her team will be marching from the Union Buildings to the South African Reserve Bank to submit their application.

"The theme also is around the women of 1956, who fought for political freedom. We can't expect them to still fight for us. They are handing over the baton to us, the younger generation."

'You need a bank that will support black entrepreneurs'

Likotsi says the bank will be the perfect platform for black people to thrive, as it will be focused on assisting stokvels, hawkers and other small businesses that are usually not able to work with other banks.

"We are going to work with our people, because we believe black people can actually work together — it's just a matter of what instrument you use to activate that," she said.

"You can't talk economic freedom if you do not have a financial institution — you need a bank that will support black entrepreneurs, which currently we don't have."

This week Likotsi and her business partners met with the governor of the Reserve Bank, Lesetja Kganyago, to officially tell him their plans, and to speak about issues facing financial institutions and the barriers to entry.

"The first time we tried contacting the Reserve Bank, it was difficult. We were discussing transformation in the financial services sector."

Despite this, she is confident that the bank will be fully operational by next year.

'We are very confident that we will have the first women-owned bank by 2019; it sounds very good."