The client list of the bank – Africa’s biggest in terms of earnings and assets – includes the region’s two biggest metropolitan municipalities, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City, as well as the Amathole District Municipality, continuing its significant public sector contribution to the province in which it started 150 years ago.
Established in October 1862 by a group of Port Elizabeth businessmen – with a clerk, a cashier, and a manager presiding over one million pounds sterling from international investors – Standard Bank is now a truly global bank, with over 50 000 employees, headline earnings in 2010 of R11.3 billion, and branches in Africa and the rest of the world.
“The bank’s tradition of serving the best interests of the local Eastern Cape community has never waivered,” says Standard Bank director of business development, public sector, Thabo Mokoto.
“In those early days, it was the farmers, particularly those in the wool industry, who were the mainstay of the Eastern Cape economy. In supporting them with finance and banking facilities, Standard Bank supported the overall economy.
“These days, we’re not only supporting the farmers but the wider community, and we’ve broadened our focus beyond financial instruments.”
“That’s because modern banking is not just about money. It’s about empowerment,” says Mokoto. “So, for instance, Standard Bank has also used its carbon trading division, based in London, to help fund the rollout of 110,000 solar water heaters to low income homes in Nelson Mandela Bay.
“Also, in the past twelve months, we’ve established 859 access points or ‘bank shops’ throughout the Eastern Cape, to give people in rural areas and townships easier access to money and banking facilities.”
Mokoto believes that public sector organisations, such as municipalities and educational institutions, place significant value on Standard Bank’s contribution of direct or indirect access to finance to the wider community.
“Our involvement in the province gives them the comfort of knowing that we are as focused on the needs of their communities as they are – and that we understand those needs. Also, the world class technological capability and financial innovation that we demonstrate by, for instance, rolling out hundreds of access points in areas that are often under-serviced in terms of infrastructure, proves that we are able to migrate them to our banking platform in ways that will not disrupt their business or their stakeholders.”
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU)’s move to Standard Bank will go live in April and includes providing the student body with an on-campus branch and the means to pay for food, books, transport, and other on-campus day to day requirements.
“Consistent with our complete approach to banking, we will also assist NMMU with the internal communications and marketing needed to ensure that people are aware that the university has changed its bank and know how to smoothly and easily benefit from the change,” Mr Mokoto says.
Standard Bank’s public sector division combines a range of practitioner skills across the full spectrum of local, provincial, and national government, education, healthcare, and state enterprises – not only in South Africa but other countries too. The bank has also been helping the South African Local Government Association with initiatives designed to assist councillors and officials with understanding their oversight responsibilities within municipalities.
In addition, it has created nationwide public sector business teams which align the specialist skills of corporate and investment banking with personal and business banking, bringing together an offering to meet the needs of all public sector finance officers.