WesBank’s Futhi Cabe got an early foot in the small business door, selling household cleaning supplies (in his local community and at taxi and bus ranks) to help support his family when he was only 14. Now the natural entrepreneur is using his wealth of business experience to lead a unit at WesBank dedicated to the unique needs of small to medium enterprises (SMEs).
Cabe, who also supplemented his university tuition with a side business doing photography, later honed his managing, leading and negotiating skills in the retail space, starting and running two vehicle dealerships in KwaZulu Natal. The ex-dealer principal is now bringing those skills full circle, to the other side of the finance fence where he’s helping to develop new tools of the trade – specifically in the SME realm.
Even after a lengthy education in Business Management, which includes, among other qualifications, an MBA, Futhi’s thirst for learning is unquenchable. The 46-year old is currently studying law and is in the final stages of securing an LLB at the University of KwaZulu Natal. A law degree is an integral cog in a well-oiled SME finance machine, and he’s ready to apply his expertise in the field.
“Many South African small and medium business owners are not familiar with their rights and benefits, such as benefits specific to the SMEs pertaining to the empowerment finance portion of Financial Sector Code, among others,” says Cabe. “I’d like to contribute to their knowledge bank not only by ensuring that we provide innovative, hassle free finance options but also in terms of legislation and equip them with the tools needed to move forward.”
THE MISSING LINK
“SMEs have been very vociferous in their needs,” says Cabe. “WesBank has responded. These business owners want to stay on their feet and use their time to grow their businesses. They don’t want to be subjected to long queues and lengthy finance applications that take forever to be finalised. Time to focus on growing their businesses is the most valuable asset for SMEs. We want to give them more of it by ensuring that access to finance is easy, fast and user-friendly regardless of the channel they prefer to use to access asset finance.
“The systems built into today’s banking cater to either the man on the street or big corporates. Until now, the middle ground occupied by SMEs hasn’t been as efficient as it could be in terms of lending processes. WesBank now offers a streamlined credit application process for SMEs to acquire assets, without the need to ever step into a bank or print a piece of paper.
“Small and medium business owners can log in to www.wesbank.co.za wherever they are in the world at any time of the day OR NIGHT, to apply for finance. Once the required data has been input, WesBank will notify applicants instantaneously if they’ve been approved. Once approved our paperless, advanced and highly secured iContract technology accepts required signatures online to get the deal finalised quickly and efficiently. Throughout this process, our asset finance experts are on hand should the SME applicant encounter any problem or require assistance telephonically.”
The contributions made by SMEs are vital to the growth of the economy, and servicing this sector is not only critical for WesBank, but also the country’s GDP. New and pre-owned assets are often used to expand existing businesses, so helping SMEs with immediate finance of such items will in turn, promote job creation and a healthy economy. “In keeping with the world economy, the SME sector has been identified as the productive drivers of inclusive economic growth and development in South Africa,” says Cabe. “SMEs make a 34% contribution to South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product and provide employment to 60% of the labor force. Accordingly, this sector is important for creating jobs and reducing unemployment, especially since big business continues to shed jobs.”
Often SMEs underestimate their potential and aren’t sure where to turn for advice. Futhi encourages SMEs to remember that every big business started small. His advice to SMEs is to organise and run their businesses as though they have reached the size they envision.
WesBank offers some helpful tips for SMEs, particularly in the area of finances include:
- Have a separate bank account for your business
- Track your income and know exactly how much you make and from where
- Track and audit all your business expenses
- Know your finances inside out
As South Africa’s top asset finance company, it’s important to WesBank to help SMEs by understanding their financial solution needs and continually removing obstacles through innovation to solve business finance needs, and unlock growth.
“We have removed the angsts that are the SMEs biggest challenge in their efforts to grow their businesses,” says Cabe. “Our simple asset finance products and services enable SMEs to access finance in an easy, fast and efficient manner. Operating conditions are not getting easier for SMEs and it is for this reason that innovation is necessary for sustained success.”