Building small business

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Research conducted over the past few years has shown that close to 70percent of start up small businesses fail in their first two years.

It was these dire statistics that propelled Sibongiseni Ngundze, the managing director of Nedbank's Small Business Services, into the world of small business banking.

Ngundze, who has been a banker for the past 17 years, said although the small business industry contributed 60percent towards job creation, lack of business and financial acumen were some of the stumbling blocks that led to businesses going under.

"A part of me has always wanted to have a developmental impact through my work. So I asked myself what can banking do for the country? I felt that my skills in banking would be best placed in a developmental setting," he said.

And so it was that Ngundze took up his current position a year and a half ago, to tackle the many challenges that small business owners grapple with.

"Running a business is a skill. There is need for a system that is self-sustaining with proper record keeping and professionalism," he said, adding that most entre-preneurs did not divide their personal and professional capacities.

"Some of them lock the business money into their personal accounts instead of banking it into their business accounts, therefore controls need to be put in place."

After being in this business and dealing with its challenges, he realised that most entrepreneurs needed assistance in one key factor: registration.

"We examined our challenges and realised that this was a need. It's an issue that involves professionalism and we wanted to be a one stop shop for the entrepreneurs."

In his capacity as managing director Ngundze leads 300 people, and to keep his division in top form, he is always questioning whether things can be done better.

"What do I need to know that will affect the business? Why would our clients come back to us? What opportunities are we missing? These are my challenges."

Ngundze is a B.Comm graduate from the University of South Africa and has been involved in small business banking for about six years.

When asked to describe himself, he paused and said with a laugh, "I am approachable and forthright. My management style is open, empowering and decisive."