File image: Wesley Diphoko, Head of the Independent Digital Lab. (IOL).
File image: Wesley Diphoko, Head of the Independent Digital Lab. (IOL).

Q & A with Wesley Diphoko: 2019 Business highlights

By staff reporter Time of article published Dec 20, 2019

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CAPE TOWN - Adri (AD): Is there any silver lining in the South African business environment?

Wesley Diphoko (WD):  Despite the difficulties, I’ve been deeply impressed by the resilience of South African business. They can withstand the storms that we’ve seen in 2019. They use innovation to forge ahead as a result I think there are some green shoots.

AD: Which sector of business impressed you the most? 

WD: I must say that the banking sector for me has been carrying the bright torch. Look at African Bank. Net profit after tax up 13% to R1.15bn, with retail deposits increasing 115% to R2.4bn in the year to September. The Bank is on its way to recovery. It’s in the process of building up its deposit base, improving the quality of its loan book and strengthening its digital offering

AD: You mention that banks have been innovative, how so?

WD: If you look at Tyme Bank and Discovery Bank, you’ll notice that we have a situation where new entrants in this sector have come in and arguably succeeding by being innovative. Tyme Bank has been amazing. The bank has managed to acquire 1 million customers without building a single branch. The collaboration with retailers and the digital implementation is the probably the greatest example of innovation in the African banking environment.

AD: What other areas of business are worth celebrating?

WD: Not so long ago, government as well as business collaborated in setting up a fund, SA SME Fund, to enable small businesses to have access to funding. The fund has managed to raise R1.4 Billion which will assist black businesses with access to funding. This is a great example of collaboration between business and government. This fund has now become one of the critical players in the venture capital sector in South Africa. 

In an environment where there’s scarcity of funding for black owned businesses this fund is playing a very important role.

AD: It seems South Africa has a lot to celebrate despite despite its challenges.

WD: Without a doubt, in fact, this goes beyond business. The Rugby World Cup is probably one success story that is celebrated in all sectors of society. What’s interesting however is that the SA team Rugby World Cup success has a business impact. Brand South Africa has been boosted, we will probably see sport tourists visiting South Africa to see themselves where Captain Kolisi was groomed and to learn more about these sporting giants.

AD: Are you positive about 2020?

WD: Most definitely, I’m looking forward to 2020. There’s a lot in the pipeline for SA particularly in the innovation space. We will see interesting developments in the Electronic Vehicle market and new businesses that are driven by technologies


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