“You can’t talk economic freedom if you do not have a financial institution — you need a bank that will support Black entrepreneurs,” says entrepreneur Nthabeleng Likotsi.
A South African entrepreneur is aiming to break barriers in the finance industry by opening up the country’s first Black woman-owned bank, the Huffington Post reported.
Nthabeleng Likotsi—the woman behind the Young Women in Business Network (YMBN) which aims to empower women of color business owners—recently filed paperwork to open up a bank, the news outlet writes.
The 33-year-old who hails from Botshabelo, Free State, has always had a passion for entrepreneurship and it runs in her family. Her parents own a school uniform factory that has been in business for decades and they also own several shops throughout Free State. “My family played a huge role in terms of business and the person that I am, particularly because my parents are leaders in their own right, so I saw how to work with people, how they gave themselves to the community, so for me, that comes [naturally],” Likotsi told the Huffington Post.
Just as her parents inspired her, she hopes to do the same for women in her community through the creation of a financial institution called Young Women in Business Network (YMBN) Mutual. Through the bank, she hopes to provide loans for small Black-owned business who aren’t able to secure funds from other financial institutions. “We are going to work with our people, because we believe Black people can actually work together — it’s just a matter of what instrument you use to activate that,” she said. “You can’t talk economic freedom if you do not have a financial institution — you need a bank that will support Black entrepreneurs, which currently we don’t have.”
Likotsi hopes to open the bank in 2019.
Several efforts have been made to help Black entrepreneurs thrive. In May, the venture capitalist firm Backstage Capital announced that it will invest $36 million in the entrepreneurial endeavors of African American women.