By Wezi Tjaronda ONGWEDIVA First National Bank (FNB) has launched a new product that aims at encouraging people to save with the bank and not in tin cans in their homes. The product, First Save Account, was established to address the concerns of many a Namibian over the high costs associated with banking services, that encourage them to keep their savings rather at home. FNB Holdings Chief Executive Officer, Vekuii Rukoro, said on Monday that the product is in response to requests by the government and economists that banks rebuild a culture of saving in Namibia. He said Namibians often extended themselves by spending more than they saved. After the Minister of Finance, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, challenged banking institutions to develop banking products that would encourage Namibians to save more than they spend, Rukoro said the bank responded with a ‘First Save Account’. A Finscope study found that 45 percent of Namibians remain “unbanked”, due to among others the unaffordability and inaccessibility of banking services. Reigning Miss Namibia, Anna Nashandi, was the first Namibian to open the account Wednesday last week. The product was launched on Monday by Minister Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who stressed the importance of having a savings culture and the important role it plays in the development of the country’s economy. In his speech at the opening of the Ongwediva Trade Fair in which he discussed Black Economic Empowerment and Small and Medium Enterprises, Rukoro emphasised that true empowerment was one that integrated the previously disadvantaged into the mainstream of the economy in a way that was fair and sustainable. This not only enabled them to have access to resources, but helped black entrepreneurs to grow the economy and create jobs. FNB is the largest company quoted on the Namibia Stock Exchange with 266 million shares and a market share of N$1.87 billion, and has a sizeable BEE element of 5 percent. This percentage represents N$65 million worth of shares in December 2004 and N$93.7 million at the current share price. “This constitutes a phenomenal voluntary redistribution of wealth by a private sector entity for the benefit of some 1 000-odd Namibians,” said the FNB CEO.
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