A business model built on trust

The future is female! Mbali Nwoko, chief executive officer of Green Terrace, welcomed Lindiwe Sithole, brand-new host of African Farming Season 2, to her farm to show her what she has achieved as an award-winning farmer.

In a panel discussion about the importance of knowledge sharing, Sithole mentions how intimidating it can be for a farmer to walk into a bank and ask for financial assistance.

She asks Keneilwe Nailana, manager of Agribusiness at Standard Bank, how service providers can build a relationship with farmers to help them overcome these fears. Nailana says relationships are important to Standard Bank.

“Our business model is based on relationship banking – we want to understand the history of a farm, the future plans of the farmer and what they are currently up to. This can’t be done by looking at financial statements sitting in an office. That is why we have agricultural specialists who visit the farm.”

Nailana says this model works well for the bank. “We know timing is everything in agriculture, and we understand farmers must plant at a certain time so that they don’t miss their window of opportunity for a good harvest.”

Consultants need to understand a farmer’s plan when they want to plant for the coming season and then make sure their facilities are approved before their planting season starts.

According to Nailana the agricultural sector is volatile because of the weather as well as pricing and various other economic factors.

“That is why our consultants need to sit with a client to understand how farmers manage these challenges. By doing this, we can identify where there are gaps and advise the client on their financial plan and the available solutions for mitigating the risks.”

Nailana says taking time out of their business to go to the bank is a real challenge for farmers.

“There is a perception out there that farmers are of the older generation and not ready for the digital world, but we found that farmers don’t want to be bothered with signing papers – they want a digital option. We plan to accommodate this need in the future.”

For more information , visit www.standardbank.co.za

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