Standard Bank’s ecosystem banking bets on SA entrepreneurs
When it comes to start-ups, few have grown as fast as Advannotech.
In less than four years, Advannotech, an integrated technology solutions business, has grown from a start-up to a nationwide entity with a turnover of more than R20 million, and employing about 30 people in five provincial offices.
The business also supports a sought-after tech internship programme, providing skills and access to graduates.
Xolani Zuma, Founder and CEO of Advannotech, attributes his business’s spectacular growth to Standard Bank’s ecosystem banking approach.
“Standard Bank’s knowledge and ability across the tech, management, and consultancy ecosystems meant they could foster the right relationships, further leveraged with the services they knew I needed at every stage of my growth journey. Even now, Standard Bank is looking ahead, planning my expansion into the continent,” explains Zuma.
Zuma, who describes himself as a corporate junkie, knew that his journey required the right banking partner.
Value beyond collateral
From the outset, Standard Bank was deliberate about not looking at Advannotech as just another start-up.
“By understanding me, my vision, capabilities, and experience, Standard Bank was able to craft a support-enabling strategy. In short, Standard Bank took the time to understand, and then bank on, me,” says Zuma.
At the very first meeting, Zuma encountered a diverse Standard Bank team, quickly able to understand Advannotech and its vision. Then, immediately, Standard Bank began “connecting me across their enterprise and business banking ecosystems, focusing on the precise relationships and services that would support my growth,” says Zuma.
With little more than a few hundred thousand rands revenue in Advannotech’s account, Standard Bank helped Zuma chart a growth strategy that would increase revenue to R50 million in six years. Not only did Standard Bank then bet on this plan with their own capital, but they “also focused their Enterprise Development team on securing opportunities with credible businesses that would ensure the plan worked,” explains Zuma.
Once Standard Bank assisted Advannotech establish a client base, Zuma was visited by a Standard Bank credit manager who advised on key acquisitions to take Advannotech national, enabling the business to serve clients and operate seamlessly across the country. Standard Bank is currently leveraging its African footprint – and wealth of relationships, contacts, and in-country technology sector expertise – to support Advannotech’s expansion into Africa.
“At every step of my journey, Standard Bank has put the relationships, systems, and facilities in place to guide, and then enable, my growth,” says Zuma.
Networked for success
Within 12 months of talking to Standard Bank, by the end of 2019, Advannotech boasted turnover of more than R500 000. A year later, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, Advannotech became a R15 million per annum business. By the end of 2021, Advannotech’s annual turnover exceeded R20 million.
“With average growth of 35% year-on-year, we’re on track to achieve our R50 million turnover target by 2025,” predicts Zuma.
Despite these incredible business achievements, Zuma is most proud of Advannotech’s internship programme. Building marketable skills for technology graduates also “deepens the ability of South Africa and Africa’s technology sector to drive inclusive growth, enabling African technology to solve for Africa’s future in tomorrow’s world,” says Zuma.
Leveraging Standard Bank’s networks and systems to create value is proving a powerful growth enabler in the absence of capital or assets. By taking time to understand a business and, in this case, a single entrepreneurs’ abilities and vision, and then matching this with the ability and opportunity of the bank’s larger ecosystems, the value of relationships themselves become bankable.
“My business was built by a bank that in one conversation decided to bank on me - and then deployed its own relationships, networks, and capabilities to enable my growth journey every step of the way,” concludes Zuma.