By Fiona Wakelin
In her latest interview with us, Lindy-Lou talks on courageous leadership during the pandemic, and how South African women who are struggling to survive in these difficult times, can prevail.
Please unpack your role at Standard Bank.
I am the Brand and Marketing Group Head for Consumer and High Net Worth Clients as well as Business and Commercial Clients. I look after these portfolios, drive financial inclusion and education, and improve our clients’ experience.
What excites you about being a Marketing Executive for the Bank?
It’s exciting to be in a position that inspires positive change. Being responsible for that transformation and observing its positive impact on communities is rewarding. Financial empowerment is a core enabler of many things, which results in progress and makes dreams possible.
In your view, how important is localisation for the South African economy?
Localisation is critical for rebuilding and strengthening our local economies. It shifts economic activity into the hands of many of our small to medium sized enterprises that are currently challenged due to the pandemic and more recently, the unrest that we experienced.
Many South Africans have lost their jobs, unemployment figures are rising, and income levels are dropping. In South Africa, SMEs are the pulse of our GDP. SMEs are growth drivers because they employ more than 40% of the workforce.
These businesses are owned by our neighbours, families and friends, they influence our lives every day, often in infinitesimal but sometimes in grand, immeasurable ways. They’re the creators of employment, builders of generational wealth and the cornerstone of the economy that needs to be nurtured and grown.
Small regional businesses collaborate to create products that serve community needs thereby strengthening community cohesion. This also drives awareness to consumers about products, thereby increasing the customer base.
At Standard Bank, our core focus is to sustain and nurture the growth and wealth of our communities because “Africa is our home and we drive her growth” and “because businesses bank on us”.
People are suffering from COVID fatigue. What plans does Standard Bank have to help alleviate this and fulfil the Bank’s slogan “South Africa banks on us?”
It depends on the perspective you are asking from. As a bank, we partner with clients to grow and help build their legacy. So, we can do all of their financial management and take that stress away. From an educational and an assistance point of view, we plan to continue our awareness campaigns. Our digital banking offerings are always being streamlined and refined to enable more contactless transactions.
Some of our Covid relief measures have included:
- We offered a range of relief measures ranging from payment holidays to debt consolidation on certain lending products.
- For instance, customers who have a personal lending product and earning R7500 or less a month automatically qualify for a payment holiday in which payment on their plan was deferred for 90 days.
- We also provided discretionary relief on credit agreement instalments for up to 3 months for customers unable to earn an income during the prescribed period – April – June 2020.
- Qualifying Standard Bank Business Current account holders and owners of a small business with a turnover of less than R20 million a year, were offered a 90-day payment holiday on their credit cards, home loans, and vehicle asset finance for the prescribed period – April to June 2020.
- Clients with existing student loans who met the requisite criteria were also offered a payment deferment for the prescribed 90-day period as a relief measure.
- Small Enterprise customers with an annual turnover of R20 million and over annually were also offered payment relief for the period April 2020 – June 2020.
In line with our Covid -19 Business and SMME Support initiative, customers in financial distress due to being negatively impacted by Covid-19 lockdown and the resultant slowdown in the economy, were offered a loan linked to the prime interest rate to help cover operating expenses such as salaries, lease agreements, fulfilment of supplier contractual obligations, utilities, etc for 3 months to assist with operating expenses.
What does it mean to you to be a courageous leader in these times?
Being a courageous leader means showing up and being conscious of the energy that one transfers. The pandemic has resulted in many people being overwhelmed, so one must be conscious and deliberate about one’s leadership script. The time to empower is now; people need hope now.
Please outline Standard Bank’s drive for diversity and inclusion.
We believe that empowering women can accelerate growth in Africa as is evident in our support of initiatives such as the UN Women #He4She movement. We also recognise the positive societal impact made by phenomenal female entrepreneurs by sponsoring initiatives like Top Women, among others.
We have also partnered with the Eswatini Women Farmer Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme to launch the Women and Youth Tunnel Farming project. This initiative aims to equip 50 aspiring “agri-preneurs” across the country with tunnel farming production skills as well as agribusiness management skills and knowledge. Additionally, we have supported female farmers in Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi and South Africa through a partnership with the UN Women Climate Smart Agriculture programme.
What plans do you have to celebrate Women’s Month?
I will be celebrating it with the phenomenal women in my life, celebrating our families and our blessings since we’ve lost so much over the last 18 months. I am also giving talks and mentoring women.
What is your “why”? What gets you up in the morning?
My passion for life and my desire to inspire positive transformation through leading with a purpose.
If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it?
I would honestly use it to talk more and take longer walks with my teenage daughter, Lebone. I would force her to talk and remove her headphones; that would be my power hour of quality time with my princess.
Do you have a message for the women out there struggling to survive in these difficult times?
A reminder that “in life it is not the 10% of what happens to you, it is 90% of what you do about it”, so build momentum and keep moving forward.
*For more, check out our bumper 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here.
*Stay up to date with all the latest on Top Women in SA, by signing up to the Standard Bank Top Women newsletter – here.