May 2021 2nd Edition

Bank on collaboration

Written by Sphelele Ngubane

A successful entrepreneur will soon be the first woman in South Africa to own a mutual bank.

Nthabeleng Likotsi (36), whose cooperative recently obtained a licence to start a mutual bank, encourages small businesses to collaborate to grow and increase their profits.

Likotsi, from Botshabelo in the Free State, is the founder of the Young Women in Business Network (YWBN).

The network started in 2009 as a cooperative financial institution, but this year turned into a mutual bank after the South African Reserve Bank approved its licence. Nthabeleng Likotsi is the founder of the Young Women in Business Network, which is in the process of setting up a mutual bank.

A mutual bank is owned by its members, while a commercial bank is owned by shareholders.

Now called YWBN Mutual Bank, Likotsi says while obtaining the licence was a milestone, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“There is power in collaboration. When I started YWBN, I understood from day one that I could not do it by myself. The only way for black people in this country to regain their economic strength is for us to collaborate,” she says.

Likotsi, who advocates for black success in business, says black South Africans may have no financial muscle in their individual capacity, but can achieve more if they work together.

Understanding the process of registering the bank was a challenge, as it is not a commonplace procedure; the last bank registered was in about 2001, she says.

As a result, Likotsi needed someone to take the cooperative through the complex process.

“I looked for young, black consultants who were looking for opportunities to register a bank and work with us on the application.

“We registered the bank with consultants who wanted to achieve the same vision, by putting our resources together and applying for the licence. Putting the application together under normal circumstances would have cost us more money,” she says.

Likotsi encourages black, small business owners to use their black economic empowerment (BEE) certificates to access services they need.

“I would walk into white-owned establishments and ask for mentorship and services for free, as this would enable them to earn BEE points,” she says.

Likotsi and her team have been given 12 months to set up the bank. They have to put systems in place and have them tested by auditors before the bank starts operating.

“We have to raise capital. From June, new members can buy shares and become part of the network so that we can capitalise the bank,” she says.  


For more information about YWBN Mutual Bank, go to

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