In line with Global Entrepreneurship Week last month, FNB Business conducted a series of engagements with township entrepreneurs across South Africa’s biggest townships.

The engagements started in Tembisa and Soweto townships in Gauteng and were followed by uMlazi Township in KwaZulu- Natal and Khayelitsha in the Western Cape.

Mike Vacy-Lyle, CEO of FNB Business said it was an important dialogue for South Africa as banks and township entrepreneurs needed to work together to unlock opportunities for growth.

“We are taking a proactive step to listen to the unique needs of township entrepreneurs and this will enable us to create solutions geared towards these business needs. While we have extensive banking infrastructure in townships, we equally want to play an instrumental role in helping to formalise township enterprises. This is very important in the context of job creation as SMEs currently employ the majority of South Africans,” Vacy-Lyle said.

He said that over the years, South African townships had proven that they could produce world-class entrepreneurs, yet a large number of SMEs in townships remained largely informal entities, limiting access to funding. He said if township businesses were to grow and receive financial assistance, the formalisation of business entities was a bridge that must be crossed. By formal, it is meant that the SME is a registered entity, with a bank account and financials that are up to date at the very least.

The engagements with township entrepreneurs touched on a broad set of issues that impacted the entrepreneurs in their operating environment, including transactional banking needs, access to various sources of funding as well as guidance from experts and entrepreneurs who have long been on the entrepreneurial journey.

“We are looking to gather information that will assist us in bringing the right financial products and services to township entrepreneurs. Most importantly, we want to better understand the difficulties and needs that keep these entrepreneurs awake at night,” said Vacy-Lyle.