Riding a competitive and dynamic wave

Britt du Plessis has been at the helm of Nedbank Namibia’s Business Banking for just over a year. She talks to Jo-Maré Duddy about the challenges and opportunities of the business in Namibia.

19 June 2019 | Banking

I tend to thrive in an environment that challenges me, keeps me on my toes, and provides me with the opportunity to raise the bar.

B7: How would you describe the prevailing business landscape in Namibia?

BdP: Looking at the current economic condition and the lack of economic growth drivers in 2019, the Namibian economy remains in a downturn, which could further be prolonged due to a global economic slowdown. Furthermore, due to the prevailing drought, the agricultural projections have been revised downward. Factoring into account all this, the business landscape has been hit hard. The current economic conditions have affected almost every, if not all industrial sectors in the country.

B7: What are the main factors hampering business at the moment?

BdP: The low economic growth continues to be a challenge across all industries. A high unemployment rate as well as highly indebted consumers has led to low spending, which is evident looking at the low private sector credit extension numbers. This means that people are not spending as much as they used to and businesses are in turn getting the short end of the stick. Other factors which are hampering business growth at the moment include low investments and the global economic slowdown.

B7: What measures need to be taken to help reach the full potential of the business sector?

BdP: The following measures will help: relaxed regulations, the review of the proposed tax amendments and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).

B7: What are the best opportunities for business in the country?

BdP: The solar energy and tourism industries continue to show growth. So does the upgrading of infrastructure especially with regards to water, hospitals, education, and logistics. Another opportunity would be to increase the value chain in agriculture, manufacturing and the fishing industries.

B7: Access to finance - especially in the SME sector - is often cited as a constraining factor. To which extend does Nedbank Namibia mitigate this concern?

BdP: At Nedbank Namibia we understand that the SME business segment has great potential to create revenue. The sector not only provides a livelihood for thousands of Namibians, but it also contributes significantly to the country’s overall income.

Nedbank has a dedicated Small Business Banking Solutions unit, which caters for the small to medium business segment. We know that taking the leap to become an entrepreneur and contributing to the Namibian economy can be a daunting task. People find they have the skills to be productive, but that they don’t necessarily have the tools or backing in place to make their vision a reality in the long run. Through our Small Business Solutions, we offer a range of tools and support for entrepreneurs and small business owners to help them make the most of their business.

B7: On a personal note: What inspired you to follow a career in business banking?

BdP: The banking industry is very competitive and dynamic. I tend to thrive in an environment that challenges me, keeps me on my toes, and provides me with the opportunity to raise the bar. My passion for people has also led me to banking. I work with colleagues who are equally passionate and genuinely interested in the needs of their clients. Working in business banking, my role allows me to interact with customers who are passionate about their dreams and work extremely hard to reach them, which is both humbling and inspiring.

B7: Gender equality remains a topical issue in Namibia. How difficult is it for women to make it to the top?

BdP: Even though we have made significant progress, banking is still very much a male dominated profession. Today we see more and more women seated at the banking table. I believe that this is because the banking world has realised women have so much to bring to the table. To make it to the top takes hard work, dedication and sacrifice.

B7: How do you juggle your professional and personal responsibilities?

BdP: My family is very important to me. Balancing my professional and personal life involves a great deal of planning. Some days are easier than other days.

B7: What advice do you have for young women to become successful professionals without compromising on their families?

BdP: There is always added pressure on women who want to climb the corporate ladder, as well as sustain a family. In today’s world women are expected to be the perfect professional as well as the perfect wife and mother. Unfortunately, one cannot be excellent at doing all three all of the time. I always advise young women professionals to always give your all in any situation and to put 100% into what you are doing at the present time. If you are at work, be completely present doing your job, and when you are with your family, be completely present with them.

B7: What is your motto - professional and personal - in life?

BdP: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

KASSIE 1

About Britt du Plessis

Britt du Plessis was appointed as the head of Nedbank Namibia’s Business Banking on 1 June 2018.

She is a chartered accountant with an honours degree in taxation.

She has occupied various senior roles in the banking sector, and went on to join the Nedbank Namibia Business Banking team as a result of her love for banking.

Equipped with a dedicated team of banking specialists and business banking solutions to offer, Du Plessis is armed and ready to provide businesses with an exceptional banking experience and ultimately take Nedbank’s Business Banking to the next level.

KASSIE 2

NedNamibia Group profile

NedNamibia Holdings Ltd is the holding company for subsidiaries engaged in financial services including commercial and personal banking, corporate and specialised finance, personal lending, wealth management, life assurance, property and asset finance, foreign exchange and securities trading.

With increased contributions from the main subsidiaries, Nedbank Namibia Limited and NedNamibia Life Assurance Company Limited, profit after taxation grew by 12.03% to N$ 340 million for the past financial year compared to N$303.5 million in 2017.

This growth translated to earnings per ordinary share of 481.86 cents, which represents a 12.1% increase from 429.81 cents in 2017. Net asset value per share grew to 3 702.82 cents from 3 327.65 cents in 2017.

The group provides a full range of domestic and global services to individual, corporate and international clients through a widespread branch network, a business centre and a head office in Windhoek.

An innovative approach to providing financial services, coupled with in-depth knowledge of the Namibian market, a commitment to Namibian development, strong support from its shareholder, and adherence to international best practice in risk management has enabled the bank to grow.

NedNamibia Life Assurance Company Limited provides cover for clients, notably for their credit and overdraft commitments. NedPlan Insurance Brokers Namibia (Proprietary) Limited provides insurance brokerage services. NedCapital Namibia, the specialist non-banking financial services unit within NedNamibia Holdings, offers specialised finance, syndication and advisory services to corporates, state-owned enterprises and empowerment entities.

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