Relationship Bankers in Profile / Absa / Sibongile (Bongi) Macholi — Lionesses of Africa

Impact Partner Content / Absa / Relationship Banker Profile – Sibongile (Bongi) Macholi

In this week’s edition of Lioness Weekender, we are publishing the first in a series of regular profiles featuring Absa Relationship Bankers whose role it is to support entrepreneurs. The first of our profiles introduces Sibongile (Bongi) Macholi, Area Coverage Manager: Relationship Banking Coverage, Somerset West: Small and Medium Enterprise, Commercial Business and Private Banking at Absa.


Tell us a little about yourself and the career path that led you to becoming a Relationship Banker at Absa.

After completing my accounting undergraduate studies and articles, I was attracted to a career in business banking, predominantly because banking offered so many career opportunities. I joined banking in the Credit Deal Structuring team for business clients in 2010. After nine years in Credit, I moved into Relationship Banking as a Banker, and I now lead a cross-functional team that includes Relationship Bankers in the Western Cape.

Tell us more about your role at Absa and how you work with entrepreneurs – what does it entail?

I manage and lead a team of frontline colleagues. By frontline in banking, we are referring to colleagues who engage with clients directly on a day-to-day basis. I lead the team to manage a portfolio of existing clients and support to acquire new business clients. We engage with entrepreneurs daily, and as our business clients, we support them to open new accounts, apply for new or increase credit facilities with the bank, or support in whatever way needed in line with our full spectrum of products and services in our customer value proposition (CVP). As a unit, we are responsible for a seamless end-to-end client experience, thus I am also the first line of escalation for complaints when things go wrong.

A Relationship Banker has a key role to play in the business life of a woman entrepreneur – what kind of support and services are on offer to women entrepreneurs in the Lionesses of Africa community from Absa?

The Lionesses of Africa community have access to strategically selected speakers whom we believe will add value to the business through the regular Lionesses Business Agility webinars. Through the Relationship Banking model, Absa also offers each business client a dedicated Business Banker who can assist them as the trusted business adviser for their business. We also have an Alternative Lending Division within Absa that specifically looks at ways to support our entrepreneurs outside of conventional lending solutions, as well as the capability to register on our website as a service provider for Absa. There are various means of support readily available to our entrepreneurs as we firmly believe that we need them to build a sustainable and thriving business economy.

Do you have any advice to share with women entrepreneurs who are in growth mode and want to establish good working relationships with an expert such as yourself at Absa?

I would definitely say know your business better than anyone else. Each engagement is a pitch, so be prepared. Everyone is time poor, so if you’re not presenting something that makes them sit up and listen, that is a lost opportunity. Also make sure that you intentionally build your network community. Do the basics and fundamentals right, referrals and recommendations are very important in business.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your role as a Relationship Banker?

Supporting my bankers to bring a client’s dreams and goals to life is so rewarding and inspiring to me! #Absa brings possibilities to life really speaks to me. For example, as a Relationship Banker to support and see a business grow from nine employees to 40 employees and tripling their turnover, is indeed evident of the impact that the right partners such as Absa can have on a business. This essentially means that by supporting the business growth, we have ensured that the business grows to employ more people, and those people put food on the table for their families with a sense of pride.

What is the single piece of advice that you would give to women who are interested in starting up in business in terms of managing their business finances?

Know your numbers, and keep your finances separate. Draw a salary from the business, the business income and turnover are not your entire individual income. So keep the two separate. This is very important – in this way you can see your business grow and it can also help when you apply for funding to scale/grow your business.

How can women entrepreneurs contact a special relationship banker like yourself at Absa, in their own region? Where should they start?

At the end of each Lionesses Business Agility webinar, my contact details and those of my fellow colleagues are shared on the chat. Absa also has strategically placed Relationship Bankers in most branches to support entrepreneurs. In essence, when you walk into any branch, if you’re not able to find a Business Banker in that branch, you’re able to reach out to the Branch Manager, who will provide the details of the Area Coverage Manager like myself for that specific area. My cellphone number is +27 71 705 6146, and I am happy to engage on WhatsApp too.

To contact Bongi, see her details below:

T: +27 21 885 8236

M: +27 71 705 6146


Absa, 116 Main Road, Somerset West, 7130, South Africa

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