South Africa’s financial services industry is transforming. Once a male-dominated space, women are closing the gap that once separated them.
Change-maker Babalwa Ngonyama is a key player in this diversification. Thanks to her work, more women and people from marginalised backgrounds are securing positions as innovators, decision-makers, and leaders in the financial industry.
The Enterprise World has named Ngonyama one of the Most Successful Business Leaders to Watch in 2023. She appeared on the cover of the November 2023 issue, billed as a “maven making major waves in the finance sector.”
Here’s how Ngonyama is reshaping South Africa’s financial industry.
How Babalwa Ngonyama Entered South Africa’s Finance Sector
Ngonyama entered South Africa’s financial services industry to ramp up women’s participation in this field. Shifting this balance has allowed her to reframe women’s roles in South Africa’s economic activities.
Her efforts haven’t come without challenges. Ngonyama found that men often approach business from different perspectives than women. As a result, potential clients were reluctant to believe in her company, Sinayo Group, and its services.
Some made it clear they had doubts, suggesting that they wait a year to be sure the company would survive before doing business together.
Ngonyama doubled her business’ development efforts compared to those of established businesses. This meant creating several presentations and continuously engaging prospective clients to demonstrate her capabilities.
She has overcome the prejudices against her, building a company that is stronger and more resilient as a result.
Introducing Sinayo Group
Ngonyama’s Sinayo Group is a majority-Black, female-owned, independent stockbroker that is a member of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). The stockbroker offers outstanding securities trading services to insurance and asset managers and pension funds in South Africa. It specialises in JSE-listed equity sales and trading.
Sinayo Group focuses its security business activity on equity research and trading execution, which it provides to institutional clients. The firm has broadened its activities through investments in asset management, short-term insurance, and derivatives.
In partnership with Software Design, the firm provides equities on the JSE top institutions in the South African financial markets with transaction cost analysis (TCA).
Sinayo Group is active in asset collection across multiple sectors in several countries. Its Sub-Saharan Africa reach offers execution in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. It also serves West African countries in the BRVM stock exchange.
Sinayo Group’s vision is to support South Africans by democratising investments. The company provides its clients and partners with game-changing insights. These insights empower them to make a tangible impact and build wealth.
The firm’s specialist team comprises individuals who have extensive expertise and entrepreneurial spirit. They foster enduring, meaningful client relationships.
As a result, Sinayo Group is becoming a leading, trusted securities trading and multi-sector investment solution provider on an international scale. The firm helps asset managers execute trades to rebalance their equity portfolios. This allows these asset managers to preserve people’s wealth.
Overcoming Challenges to Compete With Major Names
Sinayo Group has tackled major challenges like competing with global banks that had the advantage of substantial balance sheets and resources. These balance sheets and resources enabled the banks to collate extensive research, grow sales, and build trading teams.
Meanwhile, Sinayo Group relied on its innovation and its focused team’s exceptional commitment to making the company relevant to its clients. The firm set itself apart from other companies’ multi-billion-dollar operations with its agility, adaptability, impressive teamwork, and pioneering solutions.
Ngonyama funded Sinayo Group, raising the capital the firm needed to compete against established securities broking companies. Sinayo Group climbed the JSE rankings and expanded its trading counters to include the JSE Top 40 Countries. In 2023, the firm made it into the JSE Top 20.
Sinayo Group’s comprehensive understanding of client needs, tailored client solutions, and success in raising capital have fuelled its success. Ngonyama and her team mapped out clear client strategies that allowed them to deploy their limited resources where these resources could have the most impact.
Hiring And Mentoring Great-Fit Talent
Ngonyama developed the Sinayo Group team by recruiting individuals who fit the company culture and share its vision, values, and ethos. The purpose-led organisation has a clear set of goals and a clear road map. This direction helps focus each team member on a shared journey.
Ngonyama ensures that each team member receives mentorship to enhance their development. She refers to Isaac Newton’s famous expression, “If I have seen further [than others], it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Creating Project Funda
In line with this saying, Ngonyama launched Project Funda. This two-year, on-the-job training programme guides Black graduates into South Africa’s financial services industry. Since its launch in 2015, over 80 graduates have joined this programme. Many have gone on to secure roles in notable financial services companies.
The programme helps participants shape their technical, critical, and soft skills. They become “tigers” — people who are communicative and adaptable while encouraging others to be their best. Each develops their confidence, resilience, and drive.
“We believe in supporting all aspiring talent, and Project Funda will be expanded in 2024 to include a programme for South African Artists and Sports People,” Ngonyama says.
Supporting South Africa’s Renewable Energy Sources
Sinayo Group has also invested time and resources in South Africa’s development of renewable energy sources. The aim is to help tackle the energy crisis that the country is facing.
The firm has announced an R1 billion investment into the development of a renewable energy components manufacturing project. The team made this announcement at the BRICS conference, which took place in August 2023. This project will open up 1,000 jobs.
Sinayo Group’s Latest Developments
Sinayo Group offers access to high-profile speaker events and worldwide experts on various topics. The firm is currently engaging British and Chinese fashion experts to show clients the impact that SHEIN is having on South Africa’s retail market.
The firm has also just launched a global equity research offering. This offering provides a uniquely thorough level of analysis.
On top of this, Sinayo Group has developed a quantitative environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ranking for South African listed companies. The firm is now crafting a qualitative product on listed companies. Investors will be able to use this product to examine private equity investment opportunities.
About Babalwa Ngonyama
Ngonyama is the founder of Sinayo Group and the Babalwa Ngonyama Foundation. This philanthropic organisation opens leadership opportunities for South African people from marginalised backgrounds.
Ngonyama is also the co-founding president of the African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA) organisation. This organisation provides career opportunities, bursaries, and mentoring to help Black female chartered accountants progress with their careers.
On top of this, Ngonyama is a board member and audit committee chair of Kagiso Tiso Holdings and Vukile Properties. She is the chair of Group Five Ltd and Clover Ltd’s audit committees. She is also a board and audit committee member of Barloworld Ltd and the deputy chairperson of Brand South Africa.
Ngonyama represents South Africa on the B20 as one of the business leaders. She is a member of the Forbes and Choiseul Top 100 Africa. She has received a Black Business Quarterly (BBQ) Business Woman Visionary Award. Enterprise Magazine has named her one of its Top Businesswomen of the Year. And The Star has highlighted her as one of the 20 Top Women to Watch.
Ngonyama’s educational credentials include completing a Master of Business Administration degree and Harvard University’s Women in Leadership programme.
Learn more about Babalwa Ngonyama.