The question of how to create global shared value was one of the key themes at last week’s Forbes Woman Africa Leading Summit.
African Bank CEO, Basani Maluleke, shared the stage with Grace Harding, CEO of Ocean Basket and Nozipho Sithole, CEO at Transnet Port Terminals.
Maluleke subscribes to the view that the central premise behind creating shared value is that the competitiveness of a company and the health of the communities around it are mutually dependent. Recognising and capitalising on these connections has the power to unleash growth and to redefine capitalism.
Speaking about the changing role of business in society, Maluleke said businesses are increasingly being called upon to balance the needs of their employees, customers and the communities in which they operate with their returns to shareholders. “This necessitates that corporate strategy be deliberately designed to create value for all stakeholders. At African Bank, for example, this would translate into pricing products and services so that they are affordable and accessible for the majority of South Africans. Companies should not make super-profits at the expense of excluding millions of people from access to basic services like financial services, health care, education, etc,” she says.
Maluleke says shared value must also encompass creating products and services that meet the needs of under-served communities. “At African Bank, our savings products enable people to receive the best savings rates in the country from deposits of as little as R500, while many of our competitors require a minimum deposit of R100 000 to benefit from the best rates. Our day-to-day banking product MyWORLD, which will be launched in April, will be affordable and allow consumers to use it intuitively, e.g. stokvels, family budgeting, teaching kids how to manage their money while giving them independence, etc.”
The tools of the fourth industrial revolution (e.g. artificial intelligence) make it possible for companies to identify customer needs on an ongoing basis and to create products that meet those needs at affordable prices. This is key in the financial services space and particularly relevant to us at African Bank, where we are in the business of advancing lives through financial and other services,” she says.
She says wealth creators of the future will deliver convenience and personalisation at an affordable price and in a way that best resonates with consumers. “Consumers are also paying more attention to whether companies operate on the basis of sound ethics, accountability and integrity. We are living through a time of exponential change which creates opportunities for businesses to become more human,” she stresses.
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