Africa’s most transformative businesses of 2022 named at the top empowerment summit

Topco Media, in partnership with Nedbank, hosted the Top Empowerment Summit, which took place virtually from 20-21 July 202. The summit, aims to find solutions that will re-shape the socio-economic status quo through actionable ways to empower South Africa’s workforce and in so doing, improve the economy.

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Emerging farmers on agribusiness programme deliver yields equal to those of commercial farmers

• Nedbank, GWK partnership delivers highest yields ever recorded in Taung and illustrates how transformation in the agricultural sector can be commercially viable

• Use of precision farming (applying technologies and new methods) to manage and improve crop performance.

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Why investing in the planet should be everyone’s business

The devastating effects of the floods in KZN can easily be viewed as one of the most recent indications of climate change, which is becoming ever-more difficult to ignore. The finance sector in South Africa has an important role, in not only helping to alleviate the impact of these events for their clients, but also implementing internal policies to generate profound and lasting solutions to prevent the escalation of climate change.

“Africa faces many socio-economic challenges in which banks must play a progressive role in terms of start-up funding, SMME support and the introduction of innovative practices aligned with new technologies. At Nedbank, we also view climate change as a major investment focus. It’s as much a business reality as it is an environmental challenge. We believe all organisations must place the preservation of the planet higher up on their corporate agenda and instil an internal culture of sustainability, “says Mark Boshoff, Head: Strategic Initiatives and Specialised Asset Finance at Nedbank.

Every large organisation has the means to impact change – with their staff compliment being an obvious asset. These comprise thousands of people for whom sustainable business practices have a direct personal bearing. They have a vested interest in being at the forefront of a company’s mission to make a difference in mitigating climate change. Organisations committed to preserving the planet therefore can and must galvanise their people to view the protection of it as a business imperative.

“Without doubt, the continent faces numerous sustainability challenges. However, if embraced and leveraged, there are ways to help to build a more resilient, equitable and transformed continent. At Nedbank our mission is to create a workforce that is inspired by taking on the challenges faced by our clients, “says Boshoff.

The support and financing of renewable energy sources in Africa is just one example of turning a challenge into an opportunity. Additionally, investors, shareholders, employees, consumers and society are demanding responsible consumption and business practices and the finance sector should not only heed the call but also be a voice for change. This starts within.

Humans and Resources

Now is the time to attract and retain employees aligned to eco-friendly business practices, educate staff to recognise entrepreneurs with innovative sustainability ideas and to implement internal policies that reinforce the all-important mission of putting the planet first.  Sustainability goals must be embraced by Human Resource departments that actively recognise the need to advocate the company’s environmental policies, using their expertise in communicating and instilling behaviours and policies. Meaningful training material and ongoing outreach programmes can further entrench an organisation’s environmental mission – and inspire its people to participate not only as an employee but a proactive global citizen.

Products and the Planet

Shareholders and investors are increasingly considering companies with good track records in ESG as investment targets while disinvesting in those with the reputation of polluters and displaying exploitative strategies. Customers and clients like-wise are considering purchases of services and products from companies with better track records. These factors alone should already inspire the creation of products for the greater good. After all, developing offerings that attract sustainability-conscious clients benefits all. The support of businesses engaged in areas such as eco-packaging, e-waste, renewable energy, regenerative procedures in agriculture, or sustainability-linked financing is a win for the economy and the planet. Fostering a virtuous circle where corporates, communities, small businesses, suppliers, and manufacturers work together for all to benefit, has to be the future.

Home and Away

Whilst initially a necessary measure imposed by the pandemic, the rise of hybrid working environments also presents an opportunity.  Flexible workplace models should be considered in terms of the larger sustainability mission. Employees can massively limit their carbon footprint, reduce traveling times, improve well-being and attract commerce to residential areas to the benefit of communities.

Ultimately, climate change will increasingly impact businesses and supply chains, and most importantly the lives of everyone on the continent. Government’s environmental policies will make a difference but companies can play a vital role in creating change from within. Through planet-first corporate models, the financing of sustainability-focused businesses, the introduction of eco-friendly office practices, including recycling and energy-efficient solutions, employees can be inspired to bring the vision home.  It’s only then, when more people will work together towards the vital collective mission of seeing the planet as our greatest asset., “concluded Boshoff. 

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Vukile concludes green loan of R200 million with Nedbank

Vukile Property Fund (JSE: VKE), a leading retail REIT, has concluded a five-year R200m use-of-proceeds Green Loan with Nedbank CIB, which will fund 19 solar energy projects and energy-efficiency initiatives across South Africa.

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Pros and cons of property stokvels

Stokvels in South Africa are big business and becoming bigger. A group saving scheme that was once used for a likeminded group of individuals who share the same goals to meet short-term needs, such as buying groceries or school supplies at the end of the year, is fast becoming a way for the new generation to build wealth and invest in property.

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The WWF Nedbank Green Trust celebrates 30 years

The WWF Nedbank Green Trust celebrates 30 years of sparking change for people and the planet

The global Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the world and touched every life in many different and often very painful ways. However, the pandemic has also given us a new opportunity to reimagine a world where we focus on the needs of people and the planet and recreate systems of life, economics, education, health and employment that focus on the well-being of all people and not simply the self-centred and consumerist desires of the few.

“Never before has the slogan of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust – igniting new ways for people and nature to thrive – been more relevant than it is today,” said Augustine Morkel, manager of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust. New global research, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature, shows that public interest in, and concern for nature, has risen markedly (16%) in the past five years and continues to grow during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“People all over the world, particularly in emerging markets, are increasingly aware of the planetary crisis, and this is affecting their behaviour. In a clear validation of a growing trend, concerned individuals, non-profit organisations, businesses, governments, and society are acting on their concerns over nature loss in an assortment of ways. And we at the WWF Nedbank Green Trust are proud to have been catalysing change for the harmonious co-existence of people and planet for the last 30 years,” said Morkel.

The WWF Nedbank Green Trust, founded in 1990 by Nedbank and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF South Africa) funds innovative projects that have the potential to contribute to solving some of South Africa’s greatest societal and environmental challenges. From the beginning, the WWF Nedbank Green Trust achieved its greatest influence through partnerships.

“We work with partners and communities who champion the custodianship of our natural resources and direct their energy and efforts to key levers of change for South Africa’s future. Our prosperity depends on the coming together of governments, businesses, organisations and all people, and so, for the past 30 years, the Green Trust has worked to create and cement these interconnected relationships,” said Morkel.

This 30-year partnership has raised more than R350 million for the funding of approximately 300 major conservation projects. You can help the WWF Nedbank Green Trust by supporting the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme, which is aimed at supporting nature conservation projects through community-based programmes and is key in looking after natural resources such as our oceans, wildlife, freshwater, climate and more.

“Nedbank is proud to use its financial expertise to do good for individuals, families, businesses and society. We pride ourselves as the ‘green and caring’ bank, committed in our sustainability efforts to make a lasting difference in society. Through our partnership with the WWF-SA, we have seen the benefits of working with ordinary South Africans who share the same vision. The past 30 years have proven that by opening the doors of conservation and making it inclusive, we can all contribute to a better environment through job creation, food security and economic growth,” said Tobie Badenhorst, Head: Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank.

Through the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme, South Africans are encouraged to contribute to nature conservation at no cost to them. “Nedbank has created a programme that makes it easy for anyone to contribute and what is great about it is that your contribution comes at no cost. As a bank that cares about nature conservation, it is our duty to lead the way and encourage everyone from individuals to corporates, urban and rural communities to support the environment. As we celebrate 30 years of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, we hope to inspire all South Africans to join the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme and make the world a better place,” Badenhorst said.

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An interview with Arnold Van Graan, Analyst at NEDBANK CIB

“The biggest driver of the industry’s fortunes would, however, still be the gold price”

Next month Investing in African Mining Indaba will be hosting Nedbank CIB’s gold roundtable during the Virtual Investment Programme. Ahead of the roundtable, Mining Indaba caught up with Arnold Van Graan, Analyst at Nedbank CIB to start the conversation on what he predicts for gold in the future, how the landscape has changed and what fundamentals are likely to shape the gold sector within the next five years.

2020 was a record-breaking year for gold; how do you expect it to perform in 2021?

The gold price was boosted by an abundance of bad news and uncertainty in 2020. Although 2021 is off to a shaky start, we expect the risk outlook to improve in a quarter or two, which could see the safe-haven support for gold wane. An improving global economic and geopolitical outlook and stability could see some of the uncertainty ease over the coming months, pulling gold down. However, we do not expect a total collapse in the gold price, but possibly a bit more weakness from current levels, as most of the support (lower real rates/inflation and uncertainty) has been priced in. We, therefore, have a muted view on the gold price outlook for 2021e.

How do you think the gold landscape will change in 2021? Will we see more M&A and consolidation?

With the current gold rally potentially having reached a peak, we expect the focus of management teams to change slightly, and see growth coming back into focus. And often, with growth comes M&A. Although gold companies are currently focusing on smaller, lower-risk projects, we believe we could see companies start to embark on larger projects. We, therefore, expect more capital to be allocated to growth projects and see further industry consolidation. We would not be surprised to see a large M&A deal in the SA mining sector in the coming year.

Bitcoin has had a resurgence over the past few months. Do you see Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies challenging gold’s relevance? Is “gold old” in the minds of younger generations?

Bitcoin is gaining a lot of attention, with many investors now finding it a viable investment. Younger generations, in particular favour Bitcoin, as it gives them more freedom from institutional control, more flexibility and perceived higher returns. Tesla’s foray into Bitcoin could see Bitcoin grab even more attention from investors.

However, Bitcoin as an investment option is extremely volatile and is more suited to short-term and medium-term trades rather than long-term investors, in our view. It appears as though many retail investors see Bitcoin as a means of making a quick profit.  Gold remains a good asset class through which investors can diversify their portfolios. Gold has long been and remains the go-to traditional safe-haven asset. Bitcoin could be a good way to diversify your portfolio, but it will not replace gold, in our view.

Investors and analysts now talk of an “ESG premium” for stocks boasting strong environmental, social, and governance credentials. Which gold companies do you believe warrant an ESG premium?

We do not believe ESG matters have truly started to impact valuations yet. It appears as though the operational and financial performance of gold companies is still the major driver of valuations. The increased focus on ESG in recent years has seen mining companies moving from talk to action, in our view. We expect further pressure related to ESG matters on mining companies, which would see even more resources and spending on ESG-related matters over the coming years, and this could start impacting capital allocation decisions.

The link between ESG credentials and financial performance is becoming increasingly pertinent to the mining industry’s success. ESG has become more than just a company’s social licence to operate; it has become a non-negotiable criterion on many more fronts. We, therefore, believe companies with solid ESG credentials could start to attract an ESG premium, but even more so, we expect a lack of ESG compliance to weigh on valuations.

What are the fundamentals likely to shape the gold sector in the next 5 years?

Declining reserves remain a major challenge for the sector and could be one of the biggest factors shaping the industry over the next few years. We expect gold producers to embark on growth initiatives in order to replace reserves.  Companies that lack organic growth or exploration potential in their portfolios would turn to M&A. We, therefore, expect M&A activity to remain high, with many of the smaller miners merging to retain scale and relevance.  The focus on ESG and the global transition to clear energy could also impact the gold sector, with gold companies potentially using this to diversify into copper, while exiting certain jurisdictions that carry ESG risk.

We expect cost pressure to be a key challenge facing the sector, with the transition to renewable and sustainable energy sources adding to it. The biggest driver of the industry’s fortunes would, however, still be the gold price. A flat or rising gold price should see the sector continue to prosper and attract interest from a wide array of investors. However, in time, we expect the typical cycle of rising costs and capital expenditure to repeat itself, which could see the sector underperform the gold price.

Join Mining Indaba and Nedbank CIB on Wednesday 31st March at 13:00 (GMT) for the roundtable to discuss the points raised in the interview further. For more information, please click here.

The gold roundtable is open exclusively to approved investors and analysts of the Virtual investment Programme. To find out how to get involved with the Virtual Investment Programme, please click here.

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A blueprint for growing your business sustainably and responsibly

Dr Gary Kendall, Nedbank’s sustainability and strategy specialist, says that the Covid-19 pandemic provides a unique opportunity to learn about the character of systemic risk, which we will need to draw on as we face up to further challenges.

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Humanity needs a dramatic paradigm shift: Nedbank

Covid-19 is simply a symptom of a deadlier underlying issue: our dominant belief that humanity is separate from and above the natural world.

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African Development Bank invests billions in Nedbank SDG-linked bonds

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has recently completed an investment of R2 billion in Sustainable Development Goals-linked bonds (SDG bonds) that were issued by Nedbank South Africa.

This investment will strengthen Nedbank’s capital base and allow it to generate billions for investments in environmentally friendly and climate-sensitive projects such as affordable housing and renewable energy. 

Boost for South Africa’s economy

This is a first for Africa. It is expected to boost the South African economy by creating more than 6000 new jobs and an estimated 20 000 SME loans. There will be an additional estimated R4 billion investment in clean energy. This would help South Africa become less dependent on coal-generated power during the next decade. 

AfDB’s Director for the Financial Sector, Stefan Nalletamby, said that they are pleased to able help the South African economy.

“We are very pleased to be able to support the South African economy by injecting investment into the private sector through a responsible and trusted partner who is committed to responsible investing. This investment will help accelerate the recovery of the economy after the slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Nalletamby said.

This investment will also aim to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds such as women and those who live in rural communities. In Southern Africa, there are thousands of people who have difficulty banking and would benefit from Nedbank’s low-cost digital financing initiatives. During the next five years, this could lead to an estimated R2 billion in SME loans. 

Emphasis on going green

This investment is in line with the African Development Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022). This plan is focused on promoting green and inclusive growth. It is also in keeping with their top five priorities: 

(i) Light up and Power Africa, 

(ii) Feed Africa 

(iii) Industrialize Africa 

(iv) Integrate Africa  

(v) Improve the lives of African people.

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