Africa is poised for rapid private enterprise formation and growth


The configuration of Standard Bank The recently created Business & Commercial Clients (BCC) division announces the formation of a practice dedicated to leveraging the power of small, medium and large businesses to support and expand the inclusive growth of domestic businesses across Africa.

Successful growth stories in emerging markets are characterized by the proliferation and expansion of small and medium-sized enterprises.

And even in developed economies, the SME sector defines and supports the kind of economic expansion and widespread employment upon which long-term prosperity and stability are based.

Standard Bank’s commitment to driving Africa’s growth has contributed to the evolution of a highly developed African business support capacity.

The creation of a practice dedicated to businesses and commercial clients aims to hone and focus Standard Bank’s highly developed capabilities in building African businesses – at a time when local business creation across the continent leads and supports the next phase of African growth.

Sitting in South Africa with its own small and medium enterprise development challenges, Africa does not always look like a natural home for successful business incubation.

Looking further out to East and West Africa, and more broadly in our region, to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique, however, a very different picture emerges.

This continental vision and capability is what Standard Bank’s seasoned Africa-wide BCC team leverages to support business growth.

Physically on the ground with an experienced and skilled workforce recruited and developed locally, the BCC division of Standard Bank supports full banking operations for businesses in 15 African economies.

This developed banking platform directly supports the emergence of national and regional businesses across the continent.

The fact that Standard Bank has long also been present in the development of the broader policy, legislative and infrastructural environments that give rise to the creation of independent businesses in emerging and frontier economies in Africa means that BCC is ideally suited positioned to lead the next wave. business creation on the continent.

Whether clients are enterprises scaling up to support structured resource and infrastructure sets, or independent merchants with the capital, networks and capabilities to become SMBs or midsize businesses, BCC has a clear vision to how African businesses can grow, what is needed to achieve that growth and what that growth will bring to Africa.

The transformation of small businesses into family businesses or into large importer/exporter or wholesale distributor proposals, or even into regional private and listed companies, will support inclusive and private economic growth in Africa for generations to come.

This will increase employment and broaden economic inclusion, creating the conditions for overall prosperity and long-term social and political stability.

To foster this growth, it is essential to have the basic financial components of independent capital formation – in particular control of one’s own currency.

The ability to manage – and therefore predict – the price of goods and services is essential to starting a business. In Africa, micro, small and even medium enterprises are regularly confronted with currency fluctuations.

In these environments, Standard Bank’s presence, local balance sheets and access to finance are critical, especially for smaller businesses, to protect against the cost and price volatility that often impedes their growth into larger operations. and more stable.

More generally, as African businesses expand regionally and globally and foreign businesses and investors look to Africa, Standard Bank’s reliable, present and competent counterpart banking structure on the continent will become increasingly important for Africa’s emerging business segment.

The now well-functioning working relationship between Standard Bank and its partner ICBC unites Africa and the world’s largest banks in an ecosystem of business and financial capabilities that, in fact, spans the globe.

It is, on a daily basis, building the bridges, relationships and systems connecting African businesses to the world – and a world of capital, investment and know-how to Africa.

Despite the very real challenges the continent continues to face, the learning from the recent past for Standard Bank is one of deep resilience and enormous progress in Africa. Even in often difficult circumstances, the fact of Africa’s astounding rise – and growth – is real.

However, Standard Bank is not alone in recognizing the potential of emerging businesses in Africa.

Africa is home to many excellent national banks as well as world class regional banks. In addition, Standard Bank faces intense competition on a daily basis from local fintech and telecom companies in everything from simple payments to complex cross-border transactions.

Competition is equally intense in the provision of credit and risk management. At the same time, most of the big global fintechs, like Apple Pay and Paypal, are also active on the continent.

In the face of this competition, Standard Bank underscores its solidly built physical presence, its feet and infrastructure on the ground, its local balance sheet and its formidable digital capacity spanning the entire continent.

This established African ecosystem means that BCC has the right people, thought processes and relationships in place to help emerging small regional businesses successfully address challenges and capitalize on the huge potential the continent presents.

In realizing this potential, the role of technology cannot be overstated.

For less well-capitalized small businesses in particular, the steady decline in the cost of banking services enabled by technology is a game-changer. Technology today makes the difference between business survival and failure.

Even simple things like no longer having to go to the bank on Saturdays to collect money to pay staff have transformed many businesses.

As technology increasingly frees up time and resources while reducing headcount and payroll burdens, otherwise marginal businesses are becoming increasingly viable, especially in the critical early years of start-up and growth.

The BCC division of Standard Bank is strongly committed to expanding the range of simple and complex technologies that are making more and more businesses possible in Africa.

The BCC came together on the view that Africa is entering an exciting phase of expansion, characterized by the rapid formation and growth of private enterprises.

As such, BCC will harness and focus Standard Bank’s considerable business experience in tandem with its established African and global ecosystems of capital, knowledge and capacity to nurture and grow African businesses nationally, regionally and globally.

Bill Blackie is Managing Director of Business & Commercial Clients at Standard Bank.

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