The way forward: Maria Ramos

Prosper | Written by Absa Staff Writer

19 August 2016

We are excited by the opportunities the African continent presents to our business, and the long-term potential for growth for both ourselves and the communities we serve. We believe that the two are interdependent and this is reflected in our strategy, which has so far delivered great results for our shareholders and stakeholders.

Because we see our destiny as interwoven with that of the continent, we have given careful consideration to how our growth can prompt the development of the communities we serve. This speaks to our values as a business and in particular to our sense of stewardship – leaving things better than we found them.

Our job is not just to strengthen our business, but to help create wealth for our customers and shareholders, and make our continent a better place to live. This is what we call Shared Growth. As a bank, we do this by empowering individuals to participate meaningfully in the economy.

Whether we are helping large businesses find sources of capital, enabling families to buy their own home or simply extending access to financial services to more people, we are helping the communities on whose success we all depend to grow, creating business opportunities for Barclays Africa and others in the process.

The challenging economic conditions that we face this year are likely to continue into 2017. Yet, despite these short-term economic pressures, the case for Africa’s long-term growth remains strong. Achieving this growth will require careful nurturing and support. There is no silver bullet to overcome income and wealth inequalities across Africa. We recognise that no single set of institutions – government, the private sector or civil society – can fix these problems.

It takes all of us working together, and we are determined to do our part. So, where are we focusing our attention? Some of our Shared Growth initiatives are already in place. Others will be rolled out in the months and years ahead.

We are focused on:

  • Improving access to quality education
  • Helping small and medium-sized businesses succeed and grow
  • Ensuring more people have access to financial services.

These are areas of great need. They are also areas we know well, where even modest successes can empower people to improve their lives. This publication describes our approach so that we can be measured against our commitments, celebrate our achievements and share our experiences. We will invest R1.4 billion in youth education programmes across Africa over the next three years. In 2015, we launched our flagship ReadytoWork programme, which delivers skills-building curricula online. ReadytoWork is running in eight countries and will be rolled out to others this year.

Last year, we provided business advice and support to 25 966 small and medium-sized enterprises. We are increasing this support in 2016. We also spent R14.6 billion with more than 5 000 suppliers, including 560 black owned suppliers in South Africa. Across the continent, unemployment –especially among youth – and a lack of access to quality, affordable education continue to trap many in poverty. By working to ensure that Africa’s people can share in its growing opportunities, we will improve living standards and prospects for economic development.

This will be our legacy.

Disclaimer: The advice contained on this blog is for general purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances, objectives or financial needs. Accordingly, readers are advised to seek appropriate advice from licensed professionals prior to making any investment, or taking up a financial product or service.