The annual Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) kicks off this week running from 18th to 24th November and FNB will be marking the occasion with a special initiative.

The bank has said it will be embarking on a series of interactive engagements with entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs in townships throughout South Africa.

These engagements will take the form of three sessions held in three major townships namely:

  • Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal – 18th November
  • Khayelitsha, Western Cape – 20th November
  • Mdantsane, Eastern Cape – 26th November [A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the date as 29th November]

The engagements form part of FNB’s push to better understand SMEs in townships with a view to becoming more relevant to that market.

“Township businesses are equally as important as any other South African businesses. They play a critical role in providing employment, goods and services, uplifting and developing the communities in which they operate,” says head of FNB’s SME Customer Segment, Jesse Weinberg.

Jesse Weinberg, head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB.

“Many of these incredible, inspiring businesses are often incorrectly labelled as informal or small, where in fact they are even more impressive and profitable than many equivalent formal SMEs which operate in less challenging environments with greater access to markets and infrastructure than they have,” Weinberg added.

The FNB head will be speaking each of the engagement events. Weinberg will be joined by chief executive officer at Sikhona Financial Services, Buchule Sibaca and founder of Township Entrepreneurs Alliance, Bulelani Balabala.

“Our long-term objective is to further support and uplift these businesses through skills development, financing and education, while driving financial inclusion – this entails finding relevant solutions to some of their key challenges. Access to financial services remains critical for the growth of any economy and these businesses should be included into the formal financial system to help them grow or even survive in some cases,” added Weinberg.

Through initiative’s such as these, FNB has created new solutions tailored toward the needs of SMEs. These solutions include digital app-based entrepreneurship learning programma Fundaba and the zero-monthly account fee business account First Business Zero.

“Our ongoing commitment to addressing these issues is what drives us to continuously be on-the-ground, having meaningful engagements with entrepreneurs in the townships to learn from them and continuously find better ways of how we can help them,” concludes Weinberg.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]