The ability to respond quickly to what’s happening around you, to deal with people and situations with decisiveness, empathy and integrity – in other words, to show sound leadership - can mean the difference between success and failure – or the ability to survive in wartime. Bert Cook worked for Standard Bank for 45 years. He put these qualities to good use throughout his long career at the bank, but they came in most useful during the years he spent as a prisoner of war in North Africa, Italy, Germany and Poland during the Second World. Bert Cook, circa 1940, in army uniform Bert joined Standard Bank in 1938 at the tender age of 17. After just 18 months at the bank, war broke out and Bert volunteered to fight. As he puts it, at the time, “We had to get the bank’s permission to volunteer, but it was very seldom – if ever – withheld. Standard Bank was on the right side of history. It was terrible, individual families were split over South Africa’s involvement in the war.” Throughout his war years, Standard Bank continued to make up the difference between his army pay – which was virtually nil - and his salary, something he is still deeply grateful for. Capture After fighting in North Africa, Bert was captured at Tobruk and taken to Benghazi and placed under the control of the Italians. He was put on a boat across the Mediterranean to Italy and ended up at a camp in Lucca. The conditions were awful. “The camp had been constructed over a swamp and it had been condemned by the International Red Cross. I had a hole in my leg, from an infected insect bite, and there were no medical facilities. I was 21,” he recalls. He does have some good memories. One of them was on his 21st birthday. He was sitting on the shores of the Western Desert waiting for his next move, when a parcel arrived. It was from his aunt – who had raised him from a young boy after the tragic death of his parents from TB. As Bert recalls it, his aunt “was a very straight-laced lady and a fantastic cook. My cake was huge. She had hollowed it out and put a half jack of brandy inside and closed the cake. Nobody had seen brandy in the Western Desert. We appreciated it very much – but not for long”. Bert Cook today. Survival Bert says his positive attitude, sense of humour, and love of sport got him through the tough times. He never missed an opportunity to set up an impromptu soccer, cricket or tennis match, at one point carving out a life-sized tennis court between army barracks and getting the necessary equipment donated from the Red Cross. Other qualities also stood him in good stead. These included determination, people skills and problem solving abilities. From Italy, the prisoners were eventually sent to Germany and then on to Poland. “When we first went to the forced labour camp, we had a regimental sergeant major in charge of us who couldn’t speak any German or make himself understood to the Germans. They sent him back to the stalag, and I got talking to one of the senior “unter” officers. I tried out a few German words on him, and he must have spoken to the bloke in charge of our camp and told him that I could make myself understood.” These communication skills proved useful later on when, as retribution for the South African Airforce raid on Warsaw, the Germans put the South African prisoners of war down the coal mines, sparing just two of them, Bert because of his ability to communicate, and a doctor, who was a non-combatant. Food was scarce and was mostly potatoes. Coveted Red Cross parcels arrived spasmodically, and they were often stolen as a result of the black markets which existed at the camps. Bert advised his friends that they should get themselves out on a work party to get more food. “I told about 20 people that we must get out on a working party. We weren’t going to kill ourselves working, that’s for sure - but we might get more food.” To help bring this about, he promoted himself from the rank of lance corporal to corporal by adding a stripe on his shirt made up from “odds and ends” at the camp. They landed up at a village about half a kilometer from the notorious death camp of Auschwitz in Poland. It was there that he encountered Jewish prisoners, who they called “stripeys”, named for the thin cotton pajamas they wore, even in the most freezing Polish winter. Bert recalls that they were given a big tin container of “soup” at lunchtime, but it looked more like boiled water with bits of grass floating in it. “Our blokes used to take it to them. They needed it more than we did - and at least it was hot,” he says. People Bert’s people skills came in useful again towards the end of the war. As he remembers it, “We must have had about 600 people on the last working party we were on during the war. I made it my business to know each person’s POW number in case of accident. I can tell you today what my POW and army numbers were.” Following a carpet bombing of the camp by the allies, in which more than 30 men were killed, Bert and the other survivors had to summon the strength and resources to bury the victims. His almost total recall helped him to identify the deceased without delay. He then compiled a detailed list of the deceased which was subsequently handed to the military authorities in England at the end of the war. Bert Cook is listed as William Herbert Cook from Cradock on the Second World War Roll of Honour which still stands at our former headquarters in Adderley Street, Cape Town. His ability to network and interest in people stayed with him throughout his career. He put it to good use by transferring from branch accounting to the staff department of the bank in Johannesburg in 1962, a move which he describes as a highlight of his career. He stayed there for the last 20 years of his career, thriving in an environment that suited his skills set. Standard Bank, a mostly South African bank at the time, had about 20 000 employees. “I like people. I thought it would be interesting to get involved in appointments, guiding people who had performed well, seeing them get promoted. It interested me. I could have told you at any given moment the name of the manager at any branch in the bank at that time,” Bert says. He was so thoroughly networked, that even senior executives like Conrad Strauss occasionally contacted him to find out who the manager was in charge of a particular branch of the bank. Natural leaders and “people” people are still valued. Computer programmes like Office 365 are designed to make it easier to network throughout the organization, and Standard Bank currently has a project in place to identify influential individuals throughout the bank. Development Some of the things Bert learned during his tenure were to never underestimate a person’s ability to grow and develop if they are given the opportunity and a work environment with proper support and guidance. He also learnt the importance of education and continued learning. “Management strongly encouraged staff to complete the Bankers Institute exams if they wanted to progress in the bank, and I duly completed all of these,” he says. On joining the bank in 1938 – an achievement in itself during the Great Depression - he had to write three entrance exams, English, arithmetic and general knowledge, even though he had just completed matric. “One of the general knowledge questions was: What is the White House? I said: Buckingham Palace! It didn’t make much difference to my appointment, but they must have had a **bleep** good laugh.” Change Looking back, he highlights some significant changes in culture over the years. When he applied to join the bank, after meeting the manager of the branch in Cradock, the manager mentioned in a covering letter to Head Office that “the applicant writes left handed”. Back came a query from head office in Cape Town: “Does he look awkward when he writes? Because the bank’s books are made for right-handed people! Fortunately it was confirmed that my writing style was similar to that of a normal right-handed person and I was duly offered employment by the bank.” He experienced the development of banking systems from completely manual processes to a combination of manual and mechanization, to a combination of mechanization and the early days of computerization. One of his early memories is balancing large, heavy ledgers, which were entered manually and shortcast at the end of each day. At the end of one balancing procedure at the end of a financial year, shortly after joining, they were a penny out. “They nearly went bananas,” Bert recalls. “We had to find the penny as it couldn’t be rounded off. Eventually I found the penny in one of the shortcasts. This was around 10 or 11 o clock at night and I was a hero with the rest of the staff as we were finally allowed to go home.” It speaks to the rigour that Standard Bank still prides itself in today. Another element of change, which is still taking place, was the decentralization of the bank from an organization in which all decisions were made at head office, to a decentralized model, with most of the responsibilities being devolved to regional structures. Bert points out that the longer we have a business presence in Africa, the less reliant we are on redeploying South African staff to those businesses, and the more reliant we are on local talent and decision making. Bert retired in 1982 as Head of Personnel Operations. He had a sterling pedigree, having served for 45 years in numerous branches throughout South Africa and in London. On retirement, his knowledge of the bank was prodigious, but it is his love of people that stands out. He describes Standard Bank as a wonderful employer during his working life and an organization that has provided very well for him in retirement. Standard Bank was established on 15 October 1862. This story is published in commemoration of our 155th birthday.
... View more
Africa’s broader energy-production value chain holds enormous potential to deliver better solutions for the end user and reduce the country’s carbon footprint. While this development is still in a nascent phase, a number of innovations will drive activity this year and into the future, creating business and job opportunities.
According Head of Natural Resources for Commercial Banking at Standard Bank, Berrie de Jager, South Africa has some of the best renewable resources in the world, with recent programmes increasing supply and reducing prices. But benefits still need to be maximised across the broader supply chain. While investment is taking place, it’s not happening fast enough.
One reason for this is a lack of a clear regulatory framework. However, the publication of NERSA’s paper on small-scale embedded generation could serve as growth catalyst, and the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement programme (which reduced bid prices for solar and wind projects, and established an ecosystem of players who supply and manage these solutions) is back on track after it stalled shortly.
Another key driver is Government’s ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Not only will this ensure that climate-change effects are addressed, but it also sets the scene for accelerated growth in the energy efficiency and clean-energy generation sectors. Already, more players want to become less dependent on Eskom, with more co-generation expected in the future as those with surplus capacity sell into the grid. Outside of funding energy-generation projects, major opportunities for financing and manufacturing are emerging: component distributors and companies specialising in renewable solutions are gaining traction. Others are expected to create a manufacturing footprint, rather than sourcing from abroad.
According to CSIR Energy Centre Analysis, the REIPPP Programme has been well run, but demand is too “spiky” to trigger significant investments into local production. Yet, companies are beginning to fill the gaps: entrepreneurs are building biogas plants that produce power through the fermentation of organic matter. They can then use the power for self-consumption, sell it to another company, or supply their excess energy to the grid.
The longer-term game for Africa is about developing a hybrid of energy solutions that can create efficiencies and scale. The coming carbon tax in South Africa should create business opportunities for players to co-ordinate such activities. Just the monitoring and registration of these projects will create economic activity, while the carbon-trade market will also pick up. Value interlinks will develop across the continent (areas with solar PV, wind and hydro power), supplying other regions and resulting in further research and new solutions. This will create opportunities for engineers and sellers of energy solutions to enable these developments.
“Skills transfer will improve across this industry as all these developments begin to take shape,” says de Jager. “It will permeate the economy and trigger demand, and as a responsible bank with our roots in Africa, we will assist in driving this growth.”
... View more
From early-morning gym sessions or school days, most are familiar with the hair-snaring plastic tyranny of the swimming cap. No matter how careful, gentle or practised, you will always painfully extract a few hundred follicles while either putting the thing on or pulling it off. If you can identify, spare a thought for African women – and some men – whose experience is magnified by 100. Not even in Africa are swimming caps created for African hairstyles; instead the material is damaging to the hair shaft and the design is not nearly big enough to fit and protect braids, dreadlocks, weaves or natural afros – well, they weren’t until now. Capetonian Nomvuyo Treffers has two young daughters, whom she refers to as “water babies”. While they jumped into the water at any opportunity, Nomvuyo would only keep an eye on her girls from the dry side-lines, knowing that joining them (even wearing a mainstream swimming cap) would mean socked hair and hours of blow-drying or a trip to the salon. Of, course she searched for a product that would fit her hairstyle, but found nothing of the sort on the continent. The ones she did find came with hefty dollar or euro price tags, and that wasn’t even counting the delivery fee. Eventually, in the name of mother-daughter bonding, the trained photographer cut off her beloved locks – but she hadn’t given up. Nomvuyo wondered how, in a country like South Africa with its demographics, could a suitable swimming cap range for African hair not exist. This was an obvious gap in the market and soon the internet-based Swimma Cap was born. Swimma Cap products are everything those with big hair could want in swimming caps: made with thick silicone, they prevent damage to natural hair while maintaining up-dos that would be ruined by water. The caps are also larger than average, accommodating high-volume hairstyles. Customer feedback proves that such a product is long overdue in Africa, coming at a time when – as Nomvuyo herself notes – we’re seeing a prouder attitude towards black African hair. TRUE Africa also pointed out - when interviewing the entrepreneur - that Swimma Cap’s success goes beyond providing a quality product; it’s also about inclusion. Throughout the world, people of colour are demanding representation, not only in politics and entertainment, but also in everyday life. The consequence is an increase in products that match the needs of Africans and people of African descent – band aids and dolls, for example. Currently, Nomvuyo is providing caps to school children in Cape Town and Johannesburg, but Swimma Caps is more than just a business to her; it’s a practical way to set an example to her daughters who have watched her build a business from the ground up. “I hope that they take the lesson that one does not have to accept things as they are, and should question the status quo and know that they can change the game,” she says. Sources: • http://blackhairblog.wixsite.com/bhblog/single-post/2017/03/22/Feature-Black-Women-in-Business---Nomvuyo-Treffers-of-Swimma-Caps • http://citizen.co.za/news/news-national/1286359/dreadlocks-braids-and-afros-have-a-swim-cap-now/ • http://trueafrica.co/article/someone-is-finally-making-swimming-caps-for-afro-hair/
... View more
The expansion of global trade over the last 50 years has created industries, jobs and value on an unprecedented scale, driving innovation and technological advances and, in the process, benefitting most countries, most of the time. Global and cross-border trade is the fastest contributor to growth, supports domestic trade, small and medium-enterprise formation and job creation. This has been especially evident in emerging markets over the last 30 years.
However, the growing trend towards de-globalisation in some developed markets (driven by concerns around job losses due to automation and de-industrialisation) is resulting in an increasingly negative reputation for trade. In contrast, the opportunity that trade presents for African markets is potentially game-changing.
Africa is expected to emerge as the second fastest-growing region in the world over the next four years, boasting growth rates between 4% and 5%. As intra-African trade grows, so will development and job creation on the continent. While the value of trade in Africa dipped in 2016 (tracking recent historically low commodity prices) the volume of trade trended upwards. This points to the depth, spread and longevity of Africa’s trade and trade opportunity, beyond just commodities.
According to Vinod Madhavan, Head of Transactional Products and Services for Africa at Standard Bank, as commodities rebound, 2017 is expected to set new records in the volume and value of African trade. He cautions, however, that the point is not to get side-tracked by the current headwinds, which include local currencies losing value, the US dollar remaining scarce in key economies, political risks, and over 10 bank defaults in a number of countries in the near past.
While concerns around operating in Africa are often much higher, this is where banks like Standard Bank play a critical role in reducing the perception that can materially affect people’s lives by diminishing the continent’s ability to trade. As an African bank, we must be clear on how we help our clients manage risk by helping them understand the headwinds in the right context and then deliver solutions that mitigate such headwinds. Beyond managing risk, we work throughout all our markets on the continent to create an environment that allows people in Africa to do business within and between countries.
As we provide our clients with the tools to conduct efficient trade, we also support the evolution of new fintech applications aimed at improving the cost-effectiveness, speed and ease of trade in Africa.
Madhavan expects 2017 to be the year that Africa recognises the huge opportunity available in driving regional and global trade that supports economic development. By 2019, he expects to see an indigenous technology that will support intra-regional trade on the continent, transforming cross-border and global trade, and possibly ensuring that the continent benefits practically from the World Trade Organisation’s recent global treaty to boost global exports by USD1 trillion.
... View more
In a move that speaks to its commitment to financing power and infrastructure development on the continent, Standard Bank has finalised a USD120 million debt package with Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC). This will facilitate the rehabilitation of the Kariba South Hydro and Hwange Thermal power stations, increasing capacity and improving efficiency. As Lead Arranger for the facility, Standard Bank partnered with The Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (PTA Bank) to deliver the financing. The transaction was a continuation of a previous funding arrangement with ZPC, which went towards their contribution into the 300MW expansion at Kariba South Hydro Power Station. Access to energy remains crucial to sub-Saharan Africa’s future growth, yet power supply remains extremely limited across this region, constraining economic growth and development. According to Tandiwe Njobe, Regional Head: Investment Banking at Standard Bank, this landmark transaction – in which the bank leveraged its sector and technical expertise, as well as its strong relationships with key stakeholders in the region – will improve access to power for Zimbabwe and Namibia. In the medium to long term, benefits of improved power supply and reliability will extend to other Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) members. The finance facility is cross border, placing reliance for repayment on a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between ZPC and NamPower. ZPC has a long track record of delivering power to NamPower. The PPA provides a long-term and sustainable cash flow stream to ZPC, enabling the entity to raise further funding for new projects and now for the rehabilitation of existing infrastructure. Standard Bank has a long-standing relationship with ZPC as their primary banker, and with NamPower, which ultimately benefited all parties in the transaction. “It was important for us to support the regional power sector through this loan facility,” says Ms Njobe. “The facility is significant in its contribution to increasing power generation in a region which has an on-going deficit and a clear need for dependable and sustainable power supply.” To learn more about the deals we finance across Africa, go to our Corporate and Investment website.
... View more
Standard Bank Group is a huge energy consumer. In 2016 in South Africa, we consumed more than R399 million worth of electricity, enough to power 64 000 homes. Our countrywide network of 635 branches consumes more than R100 million worth of electricity every year. Imagine the positive effect on profitability and on the environment if our branches could reduce their energy consumption? Branch staff, Edenvale South Africa This question was asked by Group Real Estate (GRES) Energy Management when it implemented its innovative Switch Campaign in Gauteng in 2016 to educate people about energy use and encourage everyone to do their bit to save. The pilot campaign involved 30 branches in the province and aimed to reduce energy consumption by 4%, translating into a saving of 1111MWh, or R1.67 million. We all know that energy savings are realised by using more energy-efficient appliances. But more than that, the best way to reduce our consumption is to change our habits. Hence, the primary objective of the pilot project was to change behaviour by running a competition between our branches to see which one could save the most. Our 30 branches were divided into groups of five and GRES representatives visited each branch to suggest changes that could be made without impacting customers. This was accompanied by weekly profiles sent to each branch showing their daily energy consumption. Our Edenvale branch emerged the clear winner. Based on prior energy use, GRES expected Edenvale to use 71 484.85 kWh over the four months. Instead, it used only 55 404.07 kWh, translating into a saving of 16 080.79kWh. Nosipho Chawe, Branch Manager, says that it was all the result of teamwork, emphasising that behaviour, not technology, is the priority when it comes to saving energy, because people contribute to technology change and are alert to its usage. During the campaign, she highlighted that saving energy was everyone’s responsibility and focused on the small things as well as the big things, such getting her staff to agree to boil just a cup’s worth of water and not a full kettle for a cup of tea, and to make sure that the air conditioning (the main energy consumer) was turned off when they all left the branch. As well as being vigilant about behaviour, she reinforced the message regularly through short stand-up sessions every couple of days, and used humour to gently point out energy-wasting mistakes. Following the success of the pilot programme, GRES aims to roll out the campaign countrywide later this year, which could result in significant savings; if we reduced energy consumption across all our branches by 1% over 12 months, we would save 752MWh, translating to R1.128 million. If we could reduce consumption by 10% over that period, we would save about R11.2 million, which would exceed our entire South African energy-saving target. A 10% reduction is not that hard if we just switch things off at night.
... View more
According to Gerhard Zeelie, Head Real Estate Finance, Africa Regions for Standard Bank, funding commercial property developments with a combination of hard and local currency is an effective method to mitigate currency volatility and liquidity risk in Africa’s rapidly growing commercial real estate sector. Operating across 20 markets in Africa means that we are acutely aware of how endemic, persistent and volatile local currencies are, as well as just how high the risk is of markets running out of hard currency (a currency that is unlikely to depreciate suddenly or fluctuate greatly in value). This is obviously apparent in Africa’s real estate sector, where shortages of hard currency remain a persistent operational challenge, necessitating a buffer to absorb or delay the impact of often unforeseen instability. Traditionally, most property development projects in sub-Saharan Africa have been financed in hard currency, ensuring a predictable funding environment for the assets. More recently, the US dollar’s sustained appreciation against African currencies, for example, means that US dollar-denominated leases are placing tenants under pressure: local currency rentals are spiralling upwards as tenants struggle to fund the growing gap between local and hard currencies. This is alongside the added stress of Africa’s endemic liquidity shortages. In response, Zeelie advises Africa’s real estate developers to consider denominating commercial property loans in a mix of hard and local currency. For example, denominating a portion of the debt in US dollars and the rest in local currency acts as a buffer against liquidity risk. When local markets run out of US dollars, landlords can continue to service the local currency portion of the debt. While the US dollar portion of the debt may grow, the local currency portion of the debt will continue to shrink, achieving a net reduction despite the absence of US dollars in the local market. Zeelie reveals that as local currencies in Africa continue to depreciate against most hard “safe haven” currencies, tenants are insisting on signing local currency leases. This, of course, provides an opportunity for banks to denominate significant portions of debt funding in local currency, offering clients a mechanism to match rental cash flow in local currency with local currency debt. While Zeelie strongly recommends that Africa’s real estate developers and operators consider the advantages of denominating their debt in dual currencies, he cautions that this is not an option that can be applied retrospectively to existing hard currency-denominated commercial real estate debt where illiquidity is already a problem. Commercial property developers in Nigeria, for example, long used to an oil-based economy delivering consistent US-dollar liquidity were not able to convert their US-dollar debt into local-currency debt when the oil price collapsed and US dollars dried up. “Debt needs to be denominated in dual currencies upfront when the financing is structured,” advises Zeelie.
... View more
Historically, precious metals were considered a relatively opaque commodity sector, but the advent of precious-metal Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) has provided a valuable indicator of underlying price and volume demand in this previously hard-to-grasp industry. According to Johann Erasmus, Head CIB Wealth at Standard Bank, ETFs are used to track and predict broader industry developments, especially in the gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium industries. Using ETFs as a barometer to better understand, for example, the platinum-group metals (PGM) sector has worked extremely well – until now. Currently, the USD prices of gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium are rising. Subsequently, trading volumes of these precious metal ETFs are increasing. The volume movement of gold ETFs mirror its traditional status as a safe investment, and their current high pricings and strong growth reflect the insecurity gripping developed markets in the wake of Trump’s election and Brexit. The outlier, however, is palladium. Despite the USD palladium price being near two-year highs, the mass sell-off of palladium ETFs by investors is bucking the trend. Initially, South African institutional investors sold some holdings in the last quarter of 2016, followed by European investors in 2017. This raises some questions. While the high prices of palladium in ZAR, GBP and EUR could account for some of the sell-off, profit taking might not be the only explanation if one considers that the volume of ETFs sold accounted for almost half the total volume of palladium ounces held in ETFs. An alternative explanation could be attributed to institutional investors rotating some funds into general commodities stocks, currently perceived as good value in a rising market. But this doesn’t explain why European investors would do the same; USD palladium values are increasing, and any adjustment in US interest rates (making US equities more attractive) are only likely in March, if at all in 2017. Furthermore, the demand for palladium is expected to increase should the United States enter a period of strong growth. Finally, since the autocatalytic industry can substitute rhodium for some palladium, sustained higher palladium prices have seen a slight uptick in rhodium prices, and a small rotation into rhodium ETFs. But again, this doesn’t explain the huge sell-off of palladium ETFs. According to Erasmus, the fact that this anomaly is so puzzling reflects the extent to which analysts view ETF pricing and volume movements as the bellwether of broader industry trends, especially amongst PGMs. He expects to observe the explanation for the precious metal’s outlier status in the short term. The efficacy of PGM and gold ETFs in monitoring broader industry and economic trends aside, “ETFs remain one of the best and safest vehicles for investors to participate in the PGM and gold market - without the risk, expense, time costs and legal hurdles of holding and trading physical metal,” says Erasmus.
... View more
Residents in the Outjo area, south of Etosha National Park are rest assured to have a relatively stress-free winter, having previously been visited by the Hochland Roundtable 154’s Medic RUSH (Rural Upliftment and Social Healthcare) initiative. Medic RUSH provides free basic health care (consisting of nutrition, oral and counselling, as well as referrals to specialist) to impoverished communities who do not have access to healthcare. Standard Bank recommitted to this initiative for the 10th consecutive year, sponsoring an impressive N$100 000 to the cause. The funds were geared towards promoting the much needed healthcare to underprivileged communities in remote parts of the country. A patient receiving treatment from the Medic RUSH team “As one of the key players in the Namibian private sector, Standard Bank believes that it is our role to complement government in its quest to deliver essential services, such as health care, to all Namibians in all corners of the country,” Standard Bank’s Acting Head of Marketing Sigrid Tjijorokisa said. Medical professionals (consisting of doctors and nursing staff) and volunteers made up the party of 50 which administered health care to locals free of charge. Apart from also receiving free medication, the elderly and mothers of young children received winter blankets, while all patients who visited the mobile clinic were given an oral hygiene kit. “The Medic RUSH is a project to deliver primary health care to patients in remote areas and with this we were able to see quite a few patients over the 3 days but also very importantly we were able in most circumstances supply the patients with any medication required and pick up any serious cases which required referrals to help patients identify and manage any serious health issues,” the Chairman of the Hochland RoundTable 154, Basson van Rooyen said. Standard Bank staff with the Medic RUSH team and some of the patients at the end of a long day He added that a total of 380 patients were treated during the three days at the mobile clinic, without them having to travel long distances. Ordinarily, those patients would have to travel hundreds of kilometres to Outjo to receive treatment, however that was not the case. Owing to some of the sponsors, the Medic RUSH team was also able to drive to farms near were the mobile clinic was set-up on any given day and bring some of the patients to the doctors. While coordinating an event of this magnitude always presents itself with challenges, it was nothing Van Rooyen and his team could not take in their stride. “It is always a big task to feed a team of about 50 doctors and volunteers, set up a clinic in a different spot every day and manage all the patients visiting the clinics but with a great team from Round Table and every person willing to pull their weight we were once again able to run a successful RUSH with no major issues, great to have the right team and sponsors behind a project like this,” he stressed. The communities visited also expressed their gratitude towards the Medic RUSH team, with some urging government and other private organisations to follow in the Hochland RoundTable’s footsteps. “I am very happy that Medic RUSH is here. It is the first time we have an initiative like this in our small village and it means a lot to us because we often have to travel to Outjo which is inconvenient because we do not always have money to travel that far. My only wish as a mother with two young children is that we have this clinic here every month,” 23 year old Sandrina Mangundu, a patient who was treated at the clinic said. Another patient, 76 year old Anna Swarts, concurred with Mangundu, stressing that they were suffering with getting treatment, so initiatives such as Medic RUSH should gain momentum and be availed to all communities across the country. ”Having Medic Rush here to treat us makes me very happy, they are not only treating us physically but also on an emotional level because they have travelled this far to show us that they care about our wellbeing,” she concluded. This year’s Medic RUSH initiative was held from the 30th April to the 4th of May 2017.
... View more
Most people are familiar with Swedish furniture giant IKEA: their modern designs gracing countless homes around the globe with coveted northern European chic. But now, thanks to a chance meeting between two influential creatives from opposite sides of the world, some of IKEA’s pieces will soon look more African than continental. Earlier this year, IKEA announced plans – now already well underway – to collaborate with Africa’s finest designers, architects and illustrators on a 40-piece furniture and homeware collection, the focus of which is “modern rituals and the importance they play in the home”. All star cast A main partner in this Afro-European endeavour is Cape Town’s Design Indaba, its founder Ravi Naidoo half of the pair who first conceived this project: at the Design Indaba Festival 2016 (an annual event that showcases Africa’s best creative minds), Naidoo serendipitously met IKEA’s Head of Design, Marcus Engman. The two men discussed an African-inspired range with Naidoo afterwards handing the Swedish Engman a list of talent dotted throughout Africa - from Rwanda to Senegal. Thereafter, the chosen artists were invited to a brainstorming session at IKEA headquarters in Sweden. In the following months, however, they worked separately to develop pieces for the collection, only occasionally corresponding with each other and the IKEA design team via Skype before prototypes were displayed at Design Indaba Festival 2017. The artists involved in the project include Naeem Biviji and Bethan Rayner, a pair that specialises in made-to-order, handcrafted furniture; designer and tutor Bibi Seck; architects Christian Benimana and Issa Diabaté, designer Hanna Dalrot; and co-founders of a design studio Hend Riad and Mariam Hazem. IKEA’s Johanna Jelenik will also take part, as will Sindiso Khumalo, Laduma Ngxokolo, Mikael Axelsson, Paula Nascimento, Renee Rossouw, Selly Raby Kane and Kevin Gouriou. Like the Swedish furniture company with its vision to “create a better everyday life for many people”, the designers prioritise sustainability and affordability – the guiding principles of the collection. Emphasis is also placed on distinctive African styles, which, according to Naidoo, are under-represented in the global market. Naidoo believes the African aesthetic is not “terribly visible” in homes around the world, but once IKEA is seen to embrace it, other design houses will be emboldened to commission African artists. Engman is also thinking of the long-term effects of this collection; he intends to sign African designs to his company and is considering plans to base production in more countries in Africa, where so far only Morocco and Egypt have IKEA stores. “I see this as a start,” says the Swede. “We are constantly searching for new talent, and there is a lot of talent in Africa.””
... View more
Outgoing Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, Atedo Peterside, has expressed confidence in the ability of the board, management and staff to maintain the organization on a steady path of growth as he takes a final bow from the institution that has become synonymous with his name. He spoke at a send-off dinner in his honour in Lagos, on Thursday, April 20, 2017, attended by a high profile audience that included the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah; Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II ; President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; Chief Executive, Standard Bank Group, Sim Tshabalala; Deputy Chairman, Standard Bank Group, Jacko Maree; and Chief Executive, Africa Regions, Standard Bank Group, Sola David-Borha, with the Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC Yinka Sanni playing Host. Peterside stated, “I am resigning from the Board of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC to focus on my role as member of the board of the parent group. I am very confident that those behind are more than capable to steer the ship in the right direction. I am comfortable in the part that I have played and I believe that the organization will continue to make progress.” In a letter to the Board of Directors announcing his resignation effective March 31, 2017, Peterside noted that the organization had put in place a succession plan which ensures that the business is well-placed to continue the pursuit of its goals and growth strategies without hitches. “We have a strong tradition of careful succession planning at both Stanbic IBTC and the Standard Bank Group,” he stated “Yinka Sanni who has been the Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC Bank, recently took over as Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC holdings as a good show of our succession planning”.
... View more
We live in a fast-paced and interconnected world, where breakthrough technologies, political transformations and health challenges have far-reaching societal and economic consequences. Today, more than ever before, by sharing new insights and experiences and working across the public private sphere, we have the potential to dramatically improve and save millions of lives. Dr. Susan Mboya (President, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation), Lerato Mbele (BBC journalist and broadcaster), Antonello Barbaro (Manager of Private Sector Partnerships at Global Fund), Sola David-Borha (CE of Standard Bank Africa Regions)
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income, to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change.
As highlighted by SDG 17, a successful sustainable development agenda calls for partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society. These inclusive partnerships, built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre, are needed at the global, regional, national and local level.
The Global Fund is such a public private partnership that works to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics, saving over 20 million lives since its creation in 2002. This has been achieved through collective effort – a combination of strong contributions made by governments, civil society and the private sector.
As a key investor in Africa and African health systems, the Global Fund is maximising its impact in the fight against the diseases through private sector engagement, working to identify complex global health challenges and tapping into the wealth of expertise and resources across the private sector, to translate ideas into solutions that deliver tangible results on the ground.
From leveraging Standard Bank’s financial expertise and resources to transform African communities and employees in the vital fight against the three epidemics, to applying Coca-Cola’s supply chain and marketing expertise to improve the availability of life saving drugs throughout the continent - the Global Fund is working with a broad range of strategic partners to strengthen efficiency and maximize impact.
Impact that, in turn, has a significant return on investment in terms of economic development. In addition to saving lives and empowering communities, the Global Fund estimates that every USD$100 million in investment through the Global Fund could spark an estimated USD$300 million in domestic resources and USD$2.2 billion in long-term economic gains, globally. Thereby, creating a virtuous cycle that unlocks the full economic potential of the countries in which it operates.
Read more about Standard Bank Group’s sustainability strategy.
... View more
The term "millennial" would be a categorisation Lesego would reject, being fundamentally opposed to categorisation of any kind, but there is no doubt that he is shaking up the “way things are done around here”, which is a proxy term for Standard Bank’s culture. “Standard Bank is undoubtedly a great organization but can be unnecessarily risk averse,” he says. “There has to be a balance between being innovative and being risk averse. Look at how many millennials are coming into the workplace. Corporates will struggle with the rate of change this brings.” Creativity Elaborating on how frustrating it can be for millennials to work for big corporates, he says: “Organizations say that they want us because they want new ideas and ways of doing things, but as soon as you propose something, five guys above you have to sign it off. We don’t have enough work autonomy, and if you challenge things, you are seen as defiant. The word ‘millennial’ is trendy, but this trend will fade. You don’t have to be a millennial to be creative. A lot of creative guys are Generation X and Baby Boomers. The only difference [with millennials], is that we are more liberal and we have access to information. We know what’s happening before we get there.” Career rigidity comes up in his list of bugbears. “I asked a group of CIB staffers the other day: if Mark Zuckerberg were to create Facebook in the bank at the age of 23, would he be the head of social media? They said no, because the bank sees people as being too young for certain roles. It’s rare to have a 25 year old executive. One of the frustrations for young people is the rigidity of career management.” Caring people A self-confessed maths and science whizz, Lesego, trained as an industrial engineer. He was identified by the graduate team as a promising candidate for Standard Bank in 2014 following a brief internship. At the time, he was also being courted by Deloitte, but Standard Bank offered him a full year’s tuition bursary on condition that he work for us the following year. He joined the features engineering team in 2015. He says he chose Standard Bank over other companies because of “the people” - the fact that they went above and beyond to make sure that their interns were well taken care of. “The graduate team is a classic example of having the right people in the right place. At the end of the internship, a lot of people said that if they were offered a contract, they would go to Standard Bank. When I asked why, they answered, ‘the people, the place’. The team went above and beyond to make sure that I was well taken care of, facilitated and welcomed to the bank.” Leadership Lesego points out that Standard Bank has something else many other organisations lack: the room for manoeuvre and the possibility of possibility. “It would have taken me twice as long to do the projects I am doing in other organisations. This is partly about leadership. We have leaders who understand that as much as they bear the burden of having to produce results, this shouldn’t be passed down to the people they lead. It gives us the space to experiment.” Leadership is a subject close to his heart. Pointing out that executive leadership is a complex skill - even an art - he says, “You can be really good at what you do, but that doesn’t mean that you are a leader.” Standard Bank has a number of outstanding leaders, he says. They show intellectual independence, whereas a lot of people merely follow trends. They treat people as individuals and have a down-to-earth, human element. They are firm, but approachable, open to new ideas, strategic thinkers, and are able to see potential from afar and be radical enough to do things never done before. Great leaders, he says, also understand that they don’t have to tell people how to do their job, their job is to connect with people. Paradox While working at the bank, Lesego also has a radio show on CliffCentral called Unplugged and In Charge, which conveys the need to detach from the status quo in order to take charge of what we want to do. If this sounds like a contradiction from the always-on, always connected millennial lifestyle, it’s intentional. “A lot of the time – particularly in the case of millennials – we rely on the people before us for guidance. Sometimes, they don’t really know what is going on. [Unplugged and In Charge] is about redefining the status quo. For example, many people would say that engineering and banking do not mix. But they do. What do you think is behind internet banking? Some people say that you can’t be an entrepreneur and have a nine-to-five job. Of course you can. It’s about living your life the way you want to according to your dreams and goals.” Optimisation Over the past two years, he has been involved in Standard Bank’s proposals to revamp the NSFAS student funding scheme, and has worked on a project to build an app on WeChat called Shift which allows staff to refer customers to the bank. As a process engineer, Lesego is passionate about optimization and enablement, which includes finding new revenue streams for the bank. The Shift app is a new revenue stream because it allows us to access clients directly through our staff, something never done before. “Process engineering is about finding leaner ways of doing things. [It’s about asking] is there a shorter way of doing it? Is there a less cumbersome way? It is about the combination of people, machines and IT. It is about enablement. For example, I would ask why the Wifi in the building isn’t open to everyone? If you block stuff, you block knowledge. Thinking back to my university days, I probably learnt more from YouTube than my lecturers,” he points out. Entrepreneurial Channel optimization and new revenue streams relates to another passion of his – entrepreneurialism – the business of business creation. He is unapologetic about the fact that he intends to be a “serial entrepreneur” in the future, but says that doesn’t stop him from taking an entrepreneurial approach to everything he does now. “I run my radio programme like my own company. I consider how to market it, how to get as many listeners as possible, how to trend, how to attract sponsors. The same thing applies to what I do at the bank,” he says. “I run projects like a business, asking whether they make financial sense, whether they have an impact, whether we are keeping costs low, whether we need capital, and so on. “Working for a corporate and being an entrepreneur may co-exist for a while, but I will get to the point where I will move my energy to entrepreneurship. In the current economic environment in South Africa, it’s important not to be an island. As many employees as possible need to convert to becoming employers. It’s the only way we will create economic transformation.” Free thinking Being entrepreneurial and creative is about being free thinking. “I relish independent thinking,” Lesego says. “I question everything five times in five different ways. A big part of creativity is to step out of your comfort zone. As much as I work for a corporate in a fairly rigid environment, I am also on radio with Gareth Cliff. I love the paradox. It’s necessary. Cliches don’t really exist. We are all individuals. “At this time in South Africa, the biggest advantage youngsters have is the ability to do what they want to do, and what they enjoy doing. We are the first generation not exposed to war or any type of human rights violation. “Our burden and curse is that we’re the generation where purpose, dismantling of the apartheid legacy, poverty and emotional fulfillment are part of our main currency. The complexity of this is that our fight is more abstract and hits the core of human dignity and the authentic human experience more than anything else. We want to be seen.” Lesego takes his platform in corporate SA and his traction in mainstream media to embody what it means to achieving personal goals and competing at the highest level when the environment is not condusive for a black boy form Benoni to do so. “We have come extremely far in enjoying our current freedoms, but we still have quite a long way to go,” he says. “It is our responsibility to take these advantages & freedoms and run with them like the wind until we can all fully enjoy the privileges of an Africa we call home.”
... View more
It’s a well-known scientific fact that bees play an essential role in ecosystems: being pollinators, a third of all our food depends on their activities. In fact, the economic value of bees’ pollination work is estimated to be worth about €265 billion annually. Yet, since the late 90s, beekeepers around the globe have reported a rapid and worrying decline in honeybee colonies. The cause is thought to be the widespread use of bee-killing pesticides, parasites and pathogens, and climate change. Taken all together, the situation looks bleak, but it is stoppable and reversible. Greenpeace suggests a three-pronged solution: one; ban all bee-harming pesticides, two; adopt a bee action plan, and three; promote ecological farming. In sub-Saharan Africa, this approach is being taken a step further with the promotion of bee-friendly honey farming. It’s been said that beekeeping is possibly the only type of agriculture with an overwhelmingly positive impact on the environment; not only does it allow people to derive economic benefit from indigenous forests and other floral resources, it also encourages conservation of these resources while contributing to other forms of agriculture through the pollination of economically important plants. In northern Uganda, for example, beekeeping is adopted as a supplemental source of income by numerous rural households, as global and local markets exist for honey, beeswax, royal jelly, pollen and propolis. But, according to Ugandan academic Elizabeth Akikiriza, honey production is low in these home-made efforts due to factors such as inadequate production knowledge and skills, pests and diseases, and predominant use of informal marketing channels. Ms Akikiriza suggests that in order to improve beekeeping adoption, farmers’ social capital could be strengthened through partnerships that will address knowledge gaps in production and marketing. Such partnerships are already showing dividends in other parts of the continent: In Tanzania, for instance, Successful African Beekeeping collaborates with small-scale and subsistence farmers to encourage beekeeping and the subsequent protection of the environment, ensuring the farmers increase their often-meagre income through the honey collected and sold. Zambia’s Bee Sweet Ltd. applies a similar method. Working within local customs, the company develops an incentive-based partnership with local tribes that not only results in export-grade honey, but curtails deforestation through their tree-friendly top-bar hives and increases the income of rural farmers. With numerous benefits for the farmer, it makes sense for African countries to adopt wide-scale bee-friendly policies such as the above. As research shows, the benefits aren’t limited; entire communities and ecosystems could become healthier and richer. Sources: • http://sos-bees.org/ • http://www.sabio.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/NAMC-Report.pdf • https://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/zambian-company-proving-bees-can-be-big-business/ • http://lib.ugent.be/fulltxt/RUG01/002/275/173/RUG01-002275173_2016_0001_AC.pdf • http://www.africanbeekeeping.com/why-promote-african-beekeeping1.html
... View more
Early this year, Standard Bank Malawi hosted Malawi’s first-ever Socio-Economic Development Forum in partnership with the country’s government and UNICEF. Under the theme Youth Entrepreneurship: Creating Opportunities to Build Mother Malawi, delegates focused on solutions that would meet the needs of a growing, youthful population while simultaneously boosting the economy.
The forum was well attended, with various experts asked to speak, one of them being the respected Dr Joseph Shevel, President of the Galilee International Management Institute in Israel. His presentation centred on Israeli-developed techniques that are currently being implemented in Malawi through incubators that train young people to develop the agricultural sector, thus reducing youth unemployment.
Dr Shevel’s presence at the Standard Bank forum linked to a Malawi-Israel partnership that goes back three years: in 2014, the Israeli government introduced drip irrigation to the sub-Saharan country at the National Resources College in Lilongwe. During the event, Gil Haskel, former Ambassador of Israel to Malawi, stressed that the technology would transform the country’s ability to control its agricultural production in a manner that could end food insecurity, allowing Malawians to “grow more with less” and thus build a better future.
Then-President Dr Joyce Banda noted that drip-irrigation technology offers a number of advantages: it’s less labour-intensive than the current methods of farming used in the country, therefore making it a good option for lone farmers and women; it allows farmers to only irrigate where needed, thus using much less water than other systems; it can also be used to distribute fertiliser; and Malawians will be able to have food throughout the year, as they will no longer be beholden to their country’s rainy seasons. Credit: www.agrostudies.com
The drip-irrigation incubators are being implemented as part of a three-year government plan to reduce poverty and hunger through sustainable agricultural practices and water management. But besides being provided with the technology, a few Malawian students are also selected each year to study modern agrostudies in Israel. Two graduates of the course, Kareem Longwe and Peter Chimangeni, went on to develop an organisation, once back home, that offers training in modern farming practices, and are also working on modifying drip irrigation to suit Malawi’s environment.
“I returned home from Israel Agrostudies [in 2014] and have passionately shared the knowledge I gained,” says Kareem. “With my friend, we’re implementing a number of projects to help our country.”
Sources: • http://www.agrostudies.com/malawi-graduates-agrostudies-program-launch-farming-projects/ • http://www.nyasatimes.com/jb-calls-on-malawians-to-embrace-drip-irrigation/ • http://www.stanbicbank.co.zm/portal/site/Malawi/menuitem.e683966205aa5218cba500b3d10909a0/?vgnextoid=cda6edf843e1b510VgnVCM1000009a90900aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default
... View more
It’s an inescapable fact that modern infrastructure is vital to economic growth. In Africa, energy, internet and transport costs are among the highest in the world, yet many officials still plan ambitious infrastructure upgrades despite their limited public budgets. Fortunately, private investors, both from on the continent and oversees, are attracted to infrastructure development in Africa’s growing markets - many willing to use their own capital to address the more than USD90 billion annual infrastructure spending gap. As a facilitator of infrastructure development and investment throughout the continent, our experience tells us that 2017 should see a continuation of international and intra-continental collaboration aimed at achieving prosperity for all and, most importantly, moving Africa forward. Some countries most favoured for investment, according to experts, include: Senegal: One of the most stable economies in Africa, Senegal is already working on replacing the aging, congested Port of Dakar in Bargny with a newer, more modern version. This major upgrade should enhance the country’s growth. Further expansion in the power sector could also fuel Senegal’s growth narrative. Today, the cost of power is high with more than 50% of the energy coming from biomass. Recent oil and gas discoveries (Kosmos Energy’s major offshore gas discovery, for example) present great opportunities for gas-to-power plants. Cote d’Ivoire This West African country is on a winning streak; its economy expected to grow between eight and nine percent between 2017 and 2018. President Alassane Ouattara and Budget Minister Abdourahmane Cissé agree that strengthening infrastructure will drive the next phase in Cote d’Ivoire’s development. To this end, the government plans to spend USD60 billion on infrastructure through 2020, with the private sector providing almost 70% of that funding. Expansion in Cote d’Ivoire’s flourishing power sector is set to continue as well, mostly due to independent power producers, or IPPs. Cameroon Like many emerging African economies, Cameroon is experiencing severe power problems that have often lead to load shedding in main urban areas. Subsequently, this has negatively affected the country’s growth, but President Paul Biya has promised to “bridge the energy gap and end load shedding” with numerous energy projects. Experts caution, however, that the country’s ambitious industrialisation project will need more new power builds and upgrades to transport networks. Uganda and Tanzania Though these East African nations offer lucrative opportunities in the power sector, they also present political challenges: Uganda has diverted its oil pipeline through Tanzania rather than Kenya partly due to, many believe, the influence of terrorist group Al-Shabaab, raising the cost of this project for a country already facing budget restraints. Meanwhile, Tanzania is implementing austerity measures, which will negatively impact infrastructure investment. Yet, both governments require private investment to address power constraints, and both have access to oil and gas. Furthermore, both need investment in pipelines, roads and airports to support future growth. Sources: • www.afkinsider.com
... View more
Traditionally, whiskey has been associated with the old, the arrogant - the boring. Think bloated colonial-era politicians and industrialists tucked away in smoky gentlemen’s parlours, a cigar in one hand and a tumbler of whiskey in the other, this expensive tipple greasing the cogs of commerce, trade and politics as they wheel and deal. Thankfully, this perception is fast being erased by the unstoppable forces of globalisation, democratisation and upward mobility: whiskey is becoming the drink of choice for charismatic trendsetters and young professionals, and Africa, in its rising prosperity, is following suit. The continent’s burgeoning alcohol market is an expression of its economic growth. Indeed, high-profile figures in the drinks industry see Africa as a key developing market, with Alexandre Picard, Chairman and Chief Executive of French spirits company Pernod Ricard, asserting that “brown spirits” will power this market expansion as African consumers move towards more affluent international categories. Often seen as the gateway to other markets on the continent, South Africa is leading this trend. From Johannesburg to Cape Town, whiskey’s popularity is increasing among the rising middle class, causing it to become one of the country’s most-consumed spirits. There are various reasons for this: firstly, middle class consumers want to advertise their wealth by associating with glamourous, global brands. Secondly, competitive individual brands consistently innovate to maintain and improve market share. Thirdly, South Africans seem to have an interest in whiskey that surpasses all other markets. The annual South African Whiskey Live Festival, for instance, boasts the biggest and most diverse attendance in the world. Each year, more than 10 000 people crowd the event, over 30% of them women. The interest of South African women in this so-called “water of life” matches those of their sisters around the globe. Becky Paskin, Editor of The Spirits Business, asserts that women are finding that whiskey is “not just a man’s drink.” This partly has to do with taste, but mostly what attracts the fairer **bleep** is the history: as mentioned, fine whiskies have long been the preserve of the world’s powerbrokers, representing power and temptation. As women rise in politics and gain more territory in the workspace, they choose drinks that reflect their ambition and independence. This is evidence that “women are absolutely the future of whiskey” according to Fred Mannick, author of Whiskey Women. But they are also its past: during the colonial period, women distilled whiskey at home, it being, at the time, as much as a cure-all panacea as an enjoyable beverage. Back to the continent, a third-century Egyptian women is credited with inventing an early still, a prototype of the machinery used today to produce distilled spirits. Past, present or future, women will always do as they please, and that includes knocking back “male-only” beverages with the boys. In Africa, this means a growing spirits industry that has shed its staid image in favour of one that is more sophisticated, fun and gender-inclusive. Sources: • http://africanbusinessmagazine.com/sectors/retail/alcohol-consumption-rising-in-africa-despite-obstacles/#sthash.fYiK8LuK.dpuf • http://foodstuffsa.co.za/news-stuff/latest-sa-news/2373-spirits-marketers-turn-to-africa-to-lift-sales • http://www.whizzky.net/article.php?ide=22 • http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/12/29/371652827/ladies-lead-whiskey-renaissance-as-distillers-and-new-tipplers
... View more
Africa is developing the skills, technology and legislation to leverage its vast potential, as well as handle domestic and macro-economic disruptions. The innovation that characterises Africa’s rise is echoed in the growth of its financial services industry – the continent’s transformation engine. Within this industry, Standard Bank stands as proxy for the innovation and energy that is driving Africa’s growth.
For these reasons, the spotlight was again focused on us at this year’s Banker Awards for Banking Excellence. In addition to winning Bank of the Year in six African countries, we were also awarded the most prestigious regional accolade, Bank of the Year - Africa for 2016.
So, what is the strategy that has made us the leading bank in the world’s second-fastest growing region? Essentially, we drive Africa’s growth according to various strategic pillars:
Our funding of Busamed’s - South Africa’s first black-owned private hospital group - debt-free acquisition of two of the country’s flagship private medical facilities demonstrates the possibilities of achieving inclusive growth on the continent.
Delivering the digital bank
Our SHYFT app allows foreign-currency trading on personal mobile devices, revolutionising how Africans trade with each other, import goods and interact globally.
Our funding of Liquid Telecoms’ purchase of South Africa’s Neotel completed Africa’s first privately owned fibre network stretching from Uganda to the Cape, connecting Africa’s fastest-growing markets in a communication revolution.
To revitalise Ethiopia’s energy-distribution sector and sustain its high growth, we arranged contractor funding for the refurbishment and expansion of the country’s national electricity supplier, EEP.
Our digital innovations provide one of the most integrated digital banking platforms on earth. We offer: International Trade & Payment Systems (TAPS) to process international payments and trade transactions; eMarket Trader, a customisable online trading platform; Business Online (BOL), a corporate online banking system; Mobile Banking App; Kidz banking; and BankerChat on WeChat.
Social, economic, environmental contributions
In addition to various continent-wide development programmes, we support the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP). Together with the private sector and government, we aim to find a permanent solution to South Africa’s higher education crisis, while developing the skills relevant to Africa’s dynamic technology environments.
Many of the countries in which we won Best Banker awards experienced challenges in 2016. However, we were able to deliver – and even excel – through difficult cycles, attesting to the relevance of our strategy that places Africa’s growth at its heart.
... View more
Recognising the huge gap between Ethiopian children with potential and their access to quality education, the International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia (ILAE) was established in 2013 by Ethiopians living in the United States in partnership with the Northwest School in Seattle, Washington. ILAE’s rigorous and well-rounded, world-class curriculum equips students in financial need with the knowledge and experience needed to enter top universities around the world. “The ILAE’s first 10th grade class, now graduating as senior 12th graders, delivered national exam scores in the top 2% nationally,” says Panos Hatziandreas, Head of the school. Various other entrance tests, including Yale University in the United States, Ashoka University in India and institutions in Denmark and China returned similarly high results, earning ILAE students scholarships for internationally acclaimed programmes around the world. Standard Bank Ethiopia has become a major funder of this innovative school, making two sizeable donations in the past 18 months. “Though ILAE started relatively small, our students have also hit upon an innovative way to take the school’s world-class curriculum and teaching methods to millions of Ethiopians,” Panos says. The ILAE students are proactively developing teaching modules for different subjects, adapting them, “to help other children in remote places without access to schools – to learn remotely via satellite phones”, he says. “If we are to close the gap between potential and opportunity for the millions of Ethiopian children that need it, we need to find a way to take our model to scale – affordably and efficiently." To achieve this, ILAE is working with YAZMI, a satellite communications provider, to take the curriculum to thousands more students across Ethiopia – by phone. “Combining technology like YAZMI with the kind of out-of-the-box thinking by ILAE students who are able to create exportable versions of their own learning experiences holds incredible potential for re-inventing education across the continent,” Panos says. The ILAE currently has a staff of 20 and a student body of 105. Supporting social entrepreneurship is part of Standard Bank’s broader vision for building sustainable communities throughout East Africa. “The International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia has two primary objectives. One is to find the top 1% of highly talented students…. the other criteria is to find students who are not only bright but… who come from socioeconomic backgrounds that won’t allow them to access the best education possible.” – Panos Hatziandreas – Head of School & Country Representative" Watch the YouTube video for more insight. Standard Bank currently supports 20 other community-based projects in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Projects range from education, early childhood nutrition, youth development, empowering women, agricultural support, health and hygiene, financial literacy and key infrastructure support. Financial services are an important enabler of growth. “As a bank committed to Africa’s growth, Standard Bank is proud to support the continent’s entrepreneurs – no matter how young – as we work to transform the lives of ordinary Africans,” says Taitu Wondwosen of Standard Bank in Ethiopia. Once the students have completed school at ILAE, they apply and get accepted into universities and colleges throughout the world including Ethiopia.
... View more
Standard Bank Namibia is constructing a new, multimillion dollar head office in Windhoek. The four-star rated, sustainable, A-Grade building, the first phase of which is expected to be completed by 2019, is intended to accommodate all of the bank’s operational departments, ultimately enhancing operations. Constructed at a cost of close to N$650-million, the building will be located in the emerging hub of Kleine Kuppe, behind the popular Grove Mall, next to Pupkewitz Mega Centre in Chassie Street, Windhoek. It will contain four floors of 10 500 square meters, and 400 parking bays, consisting of 345 basement parking and 55 on ground level, as well as a private parking section of 1 885 square meters. The ground breaking ceremony held on 6 April was officiated by Frans Kapofi, the Minister of Presidential Affairs, on behalf of President Hage Geingob, Standard Bank Group Chairman Thulani Gcabashe, as well as Herbert Maier and Jerry Muadinohamba, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Standard Bank Namibia. Standard Bank’s executive team prepares ground for construction of the bank's new head office, the first phase of which is scheduled for completion in 2019 Ben Kapofi said the construction of the new head office was a gesture of confidence in Namibia’s economic development and its future. “Despite headwinds, Namibia’s economic future is sound and stable and the upcoming new Standard Bank head office is just one amongst several indications that speak to the economic development and financial empowerment of our nation. “I hope that upon completion of construction, this state-of-the-art head office complex will create a more accessible, collaborative, engaging and interactive experience for staff to deliver services to Namibian customers,” he said, speaking on behalf of Namibian President Hage Geingob. “As the nation enters a period of fiscal prudence and responsibility, in keeping with the goals and objectives in the Harambee Prosperity Plan, I am pleased to note that Standard Bank is committed to facilitating and supporting public and private-sector investments and initiatives. These contributions will ensure that Namibia’s long term outlook remains positive,” he said. Citing some of the bank’s Corporate Social Investment initiatives, the president further applauded Standard Bank for going beyond the provision of financial services to work to transform the lives of disadvantaged Namibians who live in abject poverty due to unemployment and lack of decent housing. “I commend Standard Bank for supporting and helping to uplift the communities of the regions in which it operates through its corporate social investment initiatives. It is evident that you have embraced the Harambee philosophy and have met the government halfway in order to address the country’s current housing shortage through projects such as the Buy-a-Brick initiative, which was supported by N$1.4 million donated to the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia last year. “These noble efforts will go a long way in helping to address the shortage of decent housing for our people - an estimated 500 000 Namibians live in informal settlements in the country. Keep up the good work and let’s keep growing our Namibian house – one brick at a time.” Standard Bank Group Chairman Thulani Gcabashe said construction of the new head office signified the bank’s steadfast commitment to industrialisation in Namibia and elevation of the economy to greater heights. “Namibia’s stable economy and conducive business environment makes this country an increasing investment and economic hub for the African continent. Standard Bank has been playing its part to foster this economic growth and ultimately, the industrialisation of the economy. The bank has successfully arranged and funded investment deals across various sectors that will enable Namibia to continue its positive growth trajectory despite global and regional headwinds.”
... View more
Brand Finance’s recently published Banking 500 report contains good news regarding our partnership with China’s largest commercial bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). Almost a decade ago, ICBC acquired a significant stake in the Standard Bank Group, creating a strategic collaboration that would give us further international reach and provide us with greater access to one of the world’s strongest economies – likely to soon be the world’s largest. Not only has our partnership grown trade and investment between Africa and China, but we’ve also worked together over the years on various initiatives to facilitate infrastructure investment and industrial development on the continent. Now, it seems, the Standard Bank-ICBC partnership has only grown more powerful and effective: according to Brand Finance, ICBC has become the world’s most valuable banking brand, while Standard Bank is now the most valuable bank in South Africa. The world’s top 10 most valuable banks according to the Brand Finance Banking 500 2017: 1. ICBC 2. Wells Fargo 3. China Construction Bank 4. Chase 5. Bank of China 6. Bank of America 7. Agricultural Bank of China 8. Citi 9. HSBC 10. Santander South Africa’s most valuable banks according to the Brand Finance Banking 500 2017: 1. Standard Bank 2. Absa 3. FNB 4. Investec 5. Nedbank 6. Capitec ICBC, which also lists as Brand Finance’s Most Powerful Banking Brand, can thank its current first-place position on a number of attributes that are currently common to Chinese banks: scale, the vast population and the growing wealth of the country’s citizens. Brand Finance further shares that all China’s sectors are growing rapidly, both organically and through demand for foreign acquisition. This has created opportunities for lenders and financial service providers. With such extended influence revealed, the partnership between Standard Bank and ICBC can only strengthen and expand, further facilitating Africa’s economic and industrial take-off, and bringing prosperity to all on the continent who seek it.
... View more
Standard Bank Group has partnered with GE to provide the country-first ‘Health Accelerator’ programme for technical, clinical and business acumen to South African healthcare professionals who want to improve and grow their existing practices. The programme was announced in November 2016, and the first cohort of thirty participants begin their training in this month. The programme is aimed at both private and public practitioners who want to transition into private practice. Over the next six months, the first cohort of participants will undertake a professional development journey, in which they will be able to learn from leading experts in enterprise development, healthcare management and innovation, human resources, marketing, business ethics, and governance. The modules – a total of 24 – will be delivered weekly in a classroom environment at the GE Africa Innovation Centre in Houghton and at the Standard Bank Incubator in. Additional resources will be provided through e-learning platforms and masterclasses. The programme is part of GE’s Enterprise and Supplier Development Accelerator in Africa. It was activated by Londvolota, GE South Africa’s BBBEE partner, which is focused on building entrepreneurial capability and capacity within Black-Owned companies in the country. The Standard Bank Incubator supports entrepreneurs through skills development, support and mentorship and will provide access to leading experts to deliver on content. “Both Standard Bank and GE recognise the value of small businesses as drivers of job creation and economic growth. Both companies hold enterprise development, skills development and innovation as core business objectives, and we are both strongly committed to supporting more inclusive growth and economic transformation in South Africa,” says Standard Bank Joint-CEO Sim Tshabalala. Farid Fezoua, President & CEO GE Healthcare Africa, says healthcare is major priority on the continent, and it is important for private sector players to get involved in trying to find solutions. “This is an entirely new push towards tackling healthcare challenges in Africa. Our goal is to support capacity building.” Standard Bank and GE are long-time partners. In 2014, they forged a partnership focused on improving access to affordable power infrastructure. That has since expanded to collaboration into new sectors, including a partnership between Standard Bank Kenya and General Electric Healthcare East Africa to finance, install and manage diagnostic equipment in Kenya’s public hospitals. “I’m delighted that the strong and enduring partnership we’ve forged over the past several years has enabled us to pool our different areas of expertise to support these shared objectives, through the launch of the Healthcare Accelerator,” says Mr Tshabalala. Jayshree Naidoo, Head of the Standard Bank Incubator, says the ‘Healthcare Accelerator’ provides a great opportunity for the partners to work on developing a critical sector. “Our goal in partnering with GE is to work jointly towards growing the community of health care professionals across the continent, by ensuring the success of the professionals that are selected on this Accelerator.”
... View more
In late March, Standard Bank Malawi held the country’s first Socio-Economic Development Forum, hosted in Lilongwe. In partnership with the Malawian government and UNICEF, the event focused on building the economy through youth entrepreneurship, a solution that could meet the needs of Malawi’s growing population while driving the economy. The forum was well attended by many dignitaries, businesspeople and academics. Among them were Malawian Vice President Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima, UN Resident Coordinator Mia Seppo, UNICEF Representative Johannes Wedenig and President of the Galilee International Management Institute in Israel Dr Joseph Shevel. Much-decorated tech entrepreneur and founder of mHub Rachel Sibande was part of this prestigious line-up as a speaker. In late 2013, the mHub incubator was launched to encourage youth development in business and technology. To achieve the above goal, Rachel and her team nurture tech enthusiasts into tech entrepreneurs through training, skills development and mentorship. mHub also hosts developer groups, hackathons and start-up camps, develops software, and engages with industry to find out their innovation needs – all while building an economy-boosting community of “techies”. All these efforts should have a “ripple” effect on each other; Malawi’s first-ever technological hub expects to transfer valuable skills and knowledge to over 5 000 young people throughout the country by 2019. Once they have “graduated” from the incubator having learned all they need to build their own enterprises, they will create opportunities for others. This approach is already showing results: since its start, mHub has trained over 4 000 young people. One of them, Panashe Jere, was recognised by Mark Zuckerberg in California for an app he developed that provides information to pregnant women. It’s obvious that Malawi’s would-be innovators are in good hands – quite possibly the best. Rachel has been recognised numerous times for her entrepreneurial and technical prowess: In 2015, she received Google’s Anita Borg Scholarship, only awarded to the most exceptional female computer science students. In 2016, she was named Next Einstein Ambassador for Malawi at the Next Einstein Forum, an initiative that promotes the sciences; listed by Forbes as one of the 30 most promising young entrepreneurs in Africa; and recognised as one of the top 40 innovators under 40 on the continent by Ventures Africa. Rachel is also an alumna of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative of 2012. Passionate about building a generation of entrepreneurs in her home country, Rachel believes that the youth are Africa’s future. To this end, she has established two initiatives within mHub with the aim of improving participation in the STEM fields: Girls for Code and Children’s Coding Club. In these programmes, participants learn skills that are fun and relevant, such as how to develop games, animations and mobile technology applications. During Standard Bank’s Socio-Economic Forum, Rachel emphasised the importance of including Malawi’s youth in conversations about the country’s future, saying “The youth are creative, enthusiastic, and keen to learn.” Sources: • http://www.stanbicbank.co.zm/portal/site/Malawi/menuitem.e683966205aa5218cba500b3d10909a0/?vgnextoid=cda6edf843e1b510VgnVCM1000009a90900aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default • http://www.biznisafrica.co.za/rachel-sibande/ • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Sibande • http://www.mhubmw.com/about
... View more
Stanbic Bank Uganda has partnered with the Ugandan government to launch a national schools championship which aims to encourage critical thinking, financial literacy, and expose children to knowledge beyond the classroom. The Stanbic National Schools Championship involves more than 3000 students from 40 secondary schools nationwide. They will participate in a series of educational activities including class debates, quizzes, and dynamic group projects including a student bank simulation project. The competition forms part of Stanbic Bank’s focus on CSI spending on education to foster development in the country. “We believe that healthy competition and innovativeness among students is a step forward to creating active minds which yield solutions that steer not only improved academic performance, but also solutions to moving Uganda economically forward,” says Patrick Mweheire, Stanbic Bank’s Chief Executive. The competition is expected to provide students with financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills. It will also improve their problem solving skills, build confidence, refine their presentation skills, and equip them with critical and creative thinking skills. There are also amazing prizes to be won individually and for winning schools, including an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa, a solar system for the winning school, ipads, books and internships with Stanbic, teacher training programmes, and books for school libraries. “The Ministry of Education is doing everything it can to ensure that students receive the best curriculum of study. A project such as the Stanbic National School Championships tweaks the minds of students to prepare beyond what they might have studied,” says Benson Kule, Uganda’s Commissioner for Higher Education. “The contribution of the private sector to education is respected and needed if we are to adopt higher education as a key step in driving growth in the country. Through this project, the ministry expects schools to breed excellence and cultivate co-operation among students, but most all, we hope that it will teach students resilience and confidence.” Patrick says the importance of education cannot be underestimated if communities are to achieve development and self-sustainability. “As the world continuously evolves, so does education. The more knowledge we acquire, the better we are placed to compete favourably while keeping pace with changing times. As a leading financial institution we value this concept and believe education is a key driver of growth,” he said. Cathy Adengo, the Head of Communications and CSI at Stanbic Bank explained the competition as follows: “All regions are represented in the National School Championships. We will have 10 schools from each region. The top schools will battle for the championship in the national finals [in April].” “There will be regional launches to officially kick off the competition. Students and schools will be engaged in both an essay and quiz competition, which will then be evaluated to select the winners from each region. “Students will also be given a student bank simulation project aimed at imparting knowledge about banking, while at the same time stimulating financial literacy. At this stage, we will have chosen four schools that will go to the final competitions.”
... View more