By Bongani Tshabalala
BOTSHABELO-Nthabeleng Likotsi, who will be the first black woman to own a mutual bank, says the bank will give first preference to black women.
Likotsi, 36, from Botshabelo in the Free State, is the owner of a Co-operative Financial Institution (CFI), Young Women in Business Network. After a four-year journey, she has acquired a licence for her CFI to become a mutual bank.
The fourth of five children, she told The GUARD that, growing up, she had never dreamt of owning a bank.
“From a young age I’ve been an entrepreneur and leader, being born in a family that had its own uniform-making store. “I always had in mind that if they close the door on me I’ll open my own doorway, and chances are you’ll want to join me,” said Likotsi.
She said she was not sure what career to pursue when she finished high school. However, numbers won her heart.
“I had a choice to study accounting as well as sports management. I was then accepted at Pretoria Technikon for a National Diploma in Accounting and I chose to do that.”
Likotsi wanted to start a business of her own that would help people, and by the time she was 20 she had registered her own company.
“Come third year, I knew I didn’t want to be a Chartered Accountant any more, but wanted to start an NGO,” she said.
After working in the motor industry for three years, she started Young Women in Business. She then launched Young Women in Business Network (YWBN), a CFI that is a broad-based women empowerment company owned, controlled and managed by women. It was through her networking summits that she learnt how much stokvels in South Africa made.
“That changed my life and my whole perspective and I thought, let me use legislation, and use stokvel to buy shares in entities that are looking to transform. I didn’t know at the time that it would lead to a mutual bank” Likotsi said.
“I realised in order for black people to thrive in the economy, we need to work together, put our money together and collaborate. The CFI challenge was that we could only offer our product to our shareholders, so we had to graduate from that legislation and apply for a mutual bank licence. We qualified within two years and during that time the support was tremendous.”
She plans to offer shares to the public from June 1.
“We will have different types of shares to offer to different people depending on affordability. The first preference will be given to black women as the idea is to have a bank that is majority black-owned and managed,” she said.