Black-owned bank ‘a reality’

The South African Reserve Bank building in Pretoria, South Africa on February 10, 2012. The Reserve Bank is the tallest building in Pretoria and has a black glass. (Photo by Gallo Images /

The dream of a black-owned South African bank will become reality on Saturday, say the heavyweights behind the launch of Khanya Cooperative Bank (KBC).

It is pioneered by a group of black professionals from all corners of SA who will be present when the bank is officially launched at Wits University.

Andile Mazwai, CEO of the National Stokvel Association of SA, is expected to deliver the keynote address.

The movers behind the launch were reluctant to talk much yesterday, saying all would be revealed at the launch.

When asked about capital – the minimum required to establish a bank in SA is around R1bn – the group said this was no problem.

Moeketsi Nchoba, one of the convenors of the black professionals gathering, said: “We are entering the market at a time when technology allows for smart operations without traditional infrastructure like branches. We no longer need expensive infrastructure to do banking.”

He said establishing a banking operation through the Cooperative Banks Act was less onerous than establishing a conventional bank.

“For instance, the minimum requirements to secure a cooperative banking licence is a membership base of 200 people and a deposit base of R20m,”
he said.

KCB represented “an ambition to establish a large community-based financial institution anchored on deposit taking and loan granting activity”.

“This activity will be used to build a richer financial institution which can extend into insurance and pure investments in time.

“The bank’s target market is mainly black professionals. We have noted that there is considerable hunger from black professionals to own and control economic assets,” Nchoba said.

The move has raised hope in a number of quarters that this could be the beginnings of true economic transformation.

Analyst Tshepo Kgadima said: “If one takes into account that the various black economic empowerment schemes successfully raised in excess of R80bn in equity subscriptions from
black investors in the past 10 years and that stokvels have in excess of R50bn in deposits, there is absolutely no reason why black people should not be in a position to establish a viable full spectrum bank.”

Chris Malekane, associate economic professor at Wits, said this was a step towards blacks taking control the country’s economy.

“It is high time for black businesses groups and trade unions to start making this dream a reality.”

Recently, Sandile Zungu, the deputy president of the Black Business Council, said the biggest failure of the country in the years since democracy was not push for a black-owned bank