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Unique offer for entrepreneurs

New Standard Bank branch to open doors – and arms – to business owners

Standard Bank executive provincial head Gary Markson and area manager Ivy Strydom at the new branch
Standard Bank executive provincial head Gary Markson and area manager Ivy Strydom at the new branch
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Standard Bank is taking entrepreneurs under its wing at its newly launched branch in Port Elizabeth by offering them a unique service.

While the branch – which has its official opening tomorrow night – will still offer normal banking services, Standard Bank executive provincial head Gary Markson said it would operate as a dual-purpose bank.

The aim is to empower and guide entrepreneurs to establish and grow successful businesses, through the branch in Stanley Street, Richmond Hill.

“This is the first of its kind,” Markson said.

“The concept exists in Gauteng, but not in the fashion we have it here.”

The idea was the brainchild of Standard Bank area manager Ivy Strydom.
“The initial idea was to have a traditional branch, but when we came to Stanley Street last year and saw the space, I thought what an opportunity we have,” Strydom said.

“I brought [Markson] to the premises to show him what I had in mind.

“If he hadn’t bought into the idea then, we would not be here now.”

Strydom said the idea was to offer support to businesses through financial training, rather than a formal incubation programme.

“We are partnering with existing incubators in the metro.

“We hope to support the existing programmes as a financial information arm.

“The success of this will depend on the partnerships we form, but we are sitting with a wealth of experience at our fingertips with the bank’s customers who have made [a success of their ventures].”

The training would include basic programmes on financial literacy and budgeting.

“We want to invite the greater business community to co-create shared value.

“We will also have a business manager who can consult with entrepreneurs on key issues and struggles.”

Entrepreneurs can also use available spaces at the bank for their business.

Markson said: “Many entrepreneurs don’t have their own office space.

“They have to meet clients at restaurants, but it is not necessarily conducive to their needs, as there is little privacy – and what better place [to conduct business] than in the security of your bank?”

Markson said the ultimate goal was to empower entrepreneurs so that their businesses could flourish.

“We want to take existing businesses from good to great, and help new businesses.

“The plan is to incubate businesses to the point where the entrepreneurs can stand on their own two feet.

“The biggest problems for entrepreneurs are access to finance and markets.

“If we develop the bank as a hub for like-minded people to meet, that gives them access to a market.

“Entrepreneurs are the biggest employers in our company. It is important that we support, teach and enable them – and create more of them.”