Nthabeleng Likotsi is an entrepreneur, business woman, and founder of the Young Women in Business Network (YWBN); and she is on her way to becoming the very first woman to own a mutual bank

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Nthabeleng is well on her way to achieving pioneer status through her goal to establish a woman-owned mutual bank in South Africa. Her corporate financial institution currently caters for shareholders only; but following the application for a mutual bank submitted to the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) in June this year, she is hopeful that, once processed, the mutual bank will be for all to use and benefit from. 

"As a corporate financial institution, you can only service your own shareholders; you can’t service somebody who’s not a shareholder," she explains. "Once we are a mutual bank, we’ll be able to service anyone and everyone who has not been a shareholder, we [will be] graduating because there is a market demand out there for our product." 

For Nthabeleng, and for many other women out there, this project is an important one, especially because she will be the first woman to own a mutual bank. "The fact that in 24 years into democracy in South Africa, there’s never, ever been a woman-owned bank is quite a big deal [and] this generation of young black women in particular will be the first ones to pioneer into banking," she says.

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Considering that one of the struggles that women face in the professional is that they are seldom taken seriously or believe to be competent, Nthabeleng believes that a woman-owned bank is exactly what we need. She explains that the difference between how men do business and how women do business is that women have inherent intuition that can and should be used as an advantage.

"We hope that we’ll be the bank that will contribute to decreasing the unemployment rate in the country because that’s the only way we’re going to decrease unemployment: we need to support SMMEs [small, medium and micro-sized enterprises] as they are the ones that are creating jobs."

"We control the household and we manage finances very well," she says. "Our bank would be [tapping] into the inherent abilities that God has given as women to better serve our people, and this way we are better serving them in the financial sector." This - her unrelenting belief in the power and competence of women - is the very reason she founded YWBN in 2009. 

In founding YWBN to introduce women and men to various business opportunities and to ensure that black people, in particular, are guided towards the sectors they hope to be a part of. "We’re building a network of black excellence; black business people that, as a collective, will be able to penetrate different sectors," says Nthabeleng. 

Her goal and vision for the bank is that it will stand as an example to everyone that aspirations can be achieved by those who are least expected to achieve them. When people say that black people cannot work together, or that black women do not support each other, the bank should stand as proof of the contrary. People should look at the YWBN mutual bank, Nthabeleng notes, and see that "women can work together, and this is what women can achieve when they work together.”

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One of Nthabeleng's objectives for the bank is to ultimately assist in tackling the unemployment rate in South Africa. "We hope that we’ll be the bank that will contribute to decreasing the unemployment rate in the country because that’s the only way we’re going to decrease unemployment: we need to support SMMEs [small, medium and micro-sized enterprises] as they are the ones that are creating jobs."

We really cannot wait to see what the YWBN mutual bank has in store for us. 

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