Ubuntu And The Audacity To Believe In Business Dreams  

Published 2 months ago
African Bank Day 4 – Edna3523 (1)
Edna Montse, Group Chief Transformation and Sustainability Officer at African Bank.

It is a universally-accepted notion that, if we are to truly become a more equitable society, more women are needed in the corridors of power and influence.  

The African Union’s Agenda 2063, titled The Africa We Want, speaks to inclusive and sustainable development in the drive for collective prosperity. Sadly, 24 years into our new millennium, the clarion call of women’s empowerment, diversity and inclusion, and transformation, still appears to have a novel ring to it.  

How can this be on a continent where over 50% of the population is female? Over 40% of households in South Africa are female-led, yet women, and black women in particular, are unemployed at rates exceeding an already alarming national average.  

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“It is evident that lasting tangible change requires a commitment to transformation that transcends tick-box publicity stunts,” says Edna Montse, Group Chief Transformation and Sustainability Officer at African Bank.  

“The empowerment of women not only contributes to a more just society, but creates opportunities for growth that everyone will benefit from.”  

For African Bank, the concept of empowerment is anchored in ubuntu, the belief that our identity, humanity, and ambitions are interconnected.  

“Ubuntu is a golden thread woven throughout the rich tapestry of the African Bank story,” says Montse.  

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“Our bank was established to give all South Africans access to financial services at a time when this right was reserved for a select few. Our founders fervently believed that a level economic playing field would open the door to prosperity. It is an ethos that illuminates the road ahead on our strategic journey. We are determined to play a positive role in the future of our society, and advancing the cause of women is central to that.”  

An important facet of that cause is empowering women with the confidence and skills to become successful entrepreneurs. As part of their strategic drive to build a bank for the people, by the people, serving the people, African Bank has created a number of initiatives in which female business owners can tap into networks of experience, contacts, and support.  

These include an Enterprise and Supplier Development Capacity Building program, which is a 12-month course in the finer aspects of business growth, their annual Enterprise and Supplier Development Summit, a Women Enterprise Development Programme, and the African Bank Women in Conversation programs held at various locations across the country.  

It is a cause that is dear to Montse’s heart. Born into a family of women entrepreneurs, she witnessed firsthand the delicate balancing act these women had to perform to maintain their businesses and their households.  

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They faced significant challenges in growing their business, hamstrung by a lack of financial education and the fear that one false move could result in poverty.  

Through their entrepreneurship and empowerment initiatives, African Bank hopes to instill in female entrepreneurs the audacity to believe that their business dreams are possible.  

“We believe that our diversity is our strength and inclusivity remains paramount to creating positive social change,” says Montse.  

“Our initiatives have allowed us to engage with women from all walks of life on issues that are close to their hearts, including financial wellness. The large turnouts we have witnessed at these initiatives prove that the entrepreneurial spirt that moved our founders to create African Bank is still very much alive and well in townships and disadvantaged communities across South Africa.”  

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Monste adds, “We see ourselves as steward leaders of a vision so much greater than ourselves. We therefore must play an active role in giving agency to those relegated to the sidelines of the economic playing field, and hope to those with the audacity to believe in their dreams.”  

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