Dr Steve Booysen Group CEO: Absa

Africa has some of the fastest growing economies in the world, with South Africa being one of them. But while this is an indication of the positive direction the future of the continent is headed, the fact remains that many of its countries still rely on international aid.

At Absa, we believe that fostering a culture of personal capital formation will help to create a thriving society not only for South Africa but for the continent in general. This, in turn, will decrease the need for aid and will assist countries to grow and prosper in their own right.

Personal capital formation, in a nutshell, is the accumulation of capital by individuals and families through savings and investments. When a family or individual has more assets than liabilities, and they save rather than spend, they begin to accumulate capital – this is the first step in the formation of personal capital.

At Absa, we believe that through our Full Value Banking offering, which comprises affordability, convenience, security and choice, banking has become an enabler of personal capital formation. And the evolution and rapid uptake of digital banking channels such as telephone, cellphone and internet banking offerings, has seen banks such as Absa become meaningful enablers of this transformation. Banking using digital channels is an affordable, convenient and secure method of banking for all South Africans.

Our vision for personal capital formation is to create a flourishing society that will allow all South Africans to own their own home and their own car, educate their children, have savings in the bank and access to a pension that will allow them to live a comfortable life once they retire.

In assisting previously disadvantaged individuals through black economic empowerment, South Africa has provided individuals with a personal stake in the country’s economy. Through savings and home ownership, individuals can now lay the foundation for future generations to build on and accumulate wealth. This will result in the economy developing into a more stable platform for growth which, in turn, will become a mechanism for social improvement.

The more widespread the ownership society in Africa becomes, the less we will need to depend on foreign aid for development, because we would be able to tap into our own capital to fund our own growth. By mobilising personal capital and helping our citizens become owners and not just consumers, we as a nation will be in a better position to capitalise on opportunities for growth.

The window of opportunity to convince consumers to become owners is now. It is clear that the single biggest factor in helping consumers become asset rich is to grow home ownership, as this is the most natural way to stimulate urban renewal. The ripple benefits of residential development in urban areas are also widely beneficial.

Developing a sustainable ownership society, as well as increasing investment into priority infrastructure such as housing, transport, telecommunications and urban renewal, are the key building blocks in the foundation of our future national prosperity and will ensure our future competitive advantage as a nation. Now is the time to look beyond BEE towards widespread personal capital formation through the growth of an ownership society. We believe Africa has the resources, both natural and human, to take rapid strides towards creating sustainable economic growth and we at Absa look forward to helping to take our country, and our continent, on that journey towards the future.

Welcome to The e-Business Handbook 2008.

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