In Switzerland, everything works but there are no opportunities – South Africa is the opposite: CEO

“You can go to Switzerland where everything works – but there are no opportunities. In South Africa, nothing works but there are plenty of opportunities,” says Capitec chief executive Gerrie Fourie.

Speaking to BusinessTech following the bank’s latest results presentation, Fourie said that there are many challenges to doing business in South Africa, but that the country still has significant opportunities. This is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that the bank now has more than 18 million clients – adding three million accounts in the last year alone.

Fourie added that South Africa’s businesses have the habit of focusing on the negative, but that there are still good news stories. He drew specific attention to the country’s latest car sales and manufacturing figures which show that these sectors have seen a strong rebound post-Covid and are on an upwards trajectory.

While Fourie stressed that he was joking about ‘nothing working in South Africa’, he did note that there are some urgent issues facing the country.

Asked whether he agrees with recent comments about South Africa becoming a ‘failed state’, Fourie said that there are two urgent issues that the country needs to address to further encourage business investment:

  • Eskom – Fourie said that this was one of the most obvious issues that need to be urgently addressed in South Africa, with the utility once again announcing this week that it is implementing stage 2 load shedding.
  • Failure of local governance – Fourie said that there had been a clear breakdown of governance at the local municipal level, with notable service delivery failures across the country.

The Capitec CEO added that the bank’s enormous growth won’t have an impact on its agility and ability to innovate going forward, noting that these features are driven by Capitec’s staff and ‘own people’ rather than outside forces.

He added that South Africa is seeing a ‘war for talent’ as banks, retailers and other businesses are fighting to hire from a very limited talent pool.

Read: Capitec earnings soar as shift to digital fuels client growth

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In Switzerland, everything works but there are no opportunities – South Africa is the opposite: CEO