/ 27 August 2021

Former African Bank boss announces her move to Capitec

Basani Maluleke Pow
Basani Maluleke

Basani Maluleke, who resigned as chief executive of African Bank early this year, has announced her next move — Capitec, her former employer’s closest competitor.

Maluleke said this on Friday at the Mail & Guardian’s webinar announcing the recipients of the publication’s annual Power of Women initiative.

Of her move to Capitec, Maluleke said: “When I was at African Bank, we often looked at Capitec as our nemesis — the guys we’ve got to beat. But I think in many ways they are the guys that all the banks need to beat.”

African Bank announced Maluleke’s shock resignation in January, which was met with an outcry from various quarters, including the ANC Women’s League, which called the resignation a loss for all women. Maluleke had made history by becoming the first black woman at the helm of a South African bank.

On Friday, Maluleke said she wanted to work with like-minded people who are the best at what they do. 

“And I think the Capitec team has proven that they are the best at what they do. I want to work with people who lead with integrity and authenticity and I think that these guys really do. And they have a bigger picture of the role that Capitec can play in the country,” she said.

“So it’s not just about the financials. It’s not just about having the biggest market cap or having the ROE [return on equity]. It’s about, in addition to those things, playing a role in making the country better. So I really admire what the Capitec guys have done over the last 20-plus years. I love how they think about leadership and I love the fact that they are aiming to have the best bank in the world.”

Capitec emerged on the scene in 2001 and established itself as a strong rival to the country’s entrenched big four banks. A recent banking market share study by Consulta showed that most banks’ market share declined in 2020 — except for Capitec and Nedbank. Nedbank maintained its market share, while Capitec grew by 4%. 

Maluleke said she had been impressed by Capitec’s digital-first strategy that none of the bank’s closest competitors had taken on board in the same way. “The fabric of an organisation is so clearly based on ‘how do we be the best at anything — how do we disrupt wherever we can and move the needle?’ So I’m really excited.”

She would not give details about her new job, except to say that she would join Capitec’s innovation team. “So it looks at what the next big thing for Capitec will be, basically.”

The team, Maluleke said, will focus on consumer needs and what will make Capitec’s customers “love them more and spend more money with them”. 

“When I was at African Bank, I was very clear that the bank that will win is the bank that will give its customers what they want. And I really think that Capitec is all about that.”