FNB launches two ground-breaking offerings to help SMEs in South Africa

FNB Business is living up to its commitment to help South African entrepreneurs by launching new products and solutions that it believes will help increase the level of SME activity and create a culture of entrepreneurship in the country.

In response to the barriers faced by micro, small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa, together with general economic challenges such as low economic growth and high levels of unemployment, FNB is launching a new digital app-based entrepreneurship learning programme (Fundaba) and a digital no monthly account fee business bank account (First Business Zero) to address some of these challenges.

Mike Vacy-Lyle, FNB Business CEO says, “As a bank, it is the business owners in this country who inspire us daily to innovate and find meaningful solutions that are truly impacting on the day-to-day running of their businesses and bottom line. We are proud that we can offer helpful solutions that provide value and help enable the development of SMEs in South Africa. As an entrepreneurial organisation, we strive to truly understand the needs of our customers.”


Fundaba is free interactive e-learning business education platform that has been developed inside the FNB banking app for convenient access. It is a first-of-its-kind offering in South Africa and comprises multimedia content such as videos, podcasts, quizzes, templates and tools for all FNB customers to learn about entrepreneurship and running a business.

The Bank has conducted extensive research and worked with hundreds of local business owners and mentors to provide users with critical knowledge and practical help to assist them as they navigate the business journey; from incubating a business idea, to starting, running and growing a business in South Africa. SMEs can also actively share and provide feedback on various educational chapters to constantly increase the effectiveness and relevance of the content.

The name Fundaba was created through the combination of the South African words “Fundi” (colloquially means “expert”) and “Indaba” (discussion) as these words best describe the aspirations of the product and the impact that FNB hopes to achieve through its use.

“As a leading business bank in South Africa, a core part of our strategy is to help develop SMEs by supporting entrepreneurs through their journey, and a key part of this journey is entrepreneurship knowledge and skills which we believe can help on a large-scale using our digital infrastructure” says Jesse Weinberg, head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB.

The Fundaba educational programme consists of 12 modules across 4 lifecycle stages of a business (incubate, start, run and grow) and follows a South African entrepreneur’s journey as he builds his first business – ‘Lebo’s Bakery’. All audio and video content is available in five local languages including, IsiZulu, isiXhosa, Sesotho, English and Afrikaans.

“Through our research and first-hand engagements with SMEs, we discovered that there is a knowledge gap amongst many existing and aspiring entrepreneurs when it comes to starting, running and growing a business. We feel we have a role to play to help close this gap, and at the same time help catalyse a country-wide dialogue of increasing entrepreneurship skills and knowledge sharing” adds Weinberg.

First Business Zero

First Business Zero is digital on platform business bank account offered by FNB from 1 November 2019. The offering is designed specifically for sole proprietor businesses with an annual turnover up to R5 million and can be opened on the FNB App within a few minutes using our “Selfie” process to identity and verify the user.

The key features of the First Business Zero proposition include no monthly account fee, unlimited free POS card swipes, inter-operable QR code for accepting payments, linked saving pocket to ring-fence savings and earn interest, and an FNB Connect SIM card that includes free data, minutes and SMSs (up to 100mb data, 30 voice minutes, 30 SMSs).

Businesses will also get free access to FNB Business’ unique suite of free value-added services, including Instant Accounting software, Invoicing, Cash Flow and Payroll.

“FNB has invested billions of Rands in developing a business banking platform that offers holistic and integrated financial solutions to all types of businesses. To maintain our market leading position, it is essential that our business model continually evolves to provide relevant solutions for customers, from learning how to start, run and grow a business, to registering a company, opening a bank account, applying for credit and managing the businesses daily affairs,” says Vacy-Lyle.

During the past financial year to June 2019, FNB Business banked SME lending reached more than R40bn on the back of simple, scored, digital lending, with a credit approval taking less than 3 minutes in many instances. The bank further extended over R8bn to women led businesses during the same period.

“Better use of data, understanding client context, easier credit applications through scoring and digitisation, as well as lower origination costs, have led to better, deeper credit underwriting and quicker turnaround times. This has made borrowing from FNB Business a much better experience with better pricing,” adds Vacy-Lyle.

“Continued digitisation of the commercial banking experience, at scale, has resulted in improved efficiencies and a lower cost of banking. This benefit of scale will be passed on to the customer through more affordable banking solutions like these. FNB Business remains committed to providing efficient and differentiated customer experiences, inside the platform. We believe in offering ongoing deep value to our customers through a wide and differentiated digital experience” concludes Vacy-Lyle.