THE National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) plans to launch a mass market, black-owned "mega" bank this year that will mimic the Chinese model and grow small businesses.

This is not the first time Nafcoc has tried its hand at banking - it failed to establish African Bank and Future Bank 40 years ago.

"Now we want to do it properly," secretary-general Gilbert Mosena said yesterday.

The initiative will attempt to fill the gap in SA's financial services sector - the unbanked make up more than a third of the population - and provide funding for black businesses finding it tough to access finance.

Mr Mosena said the process had already started as Nafcoc had established co-operative banks across 19 business sectors in the nine provinces, where the likes of tavern owners and taxi associations participated. It now wanted to scale up by obtaining a commercial banking licence.

Copying the Chinese Mega Bank model, the organisation intends to use its alliance with the Black Business Council (BBC) to grow black-owned small and medium-sized businesses. Nafcoc is a member of the BBC, which broke away from Business Unity SA (Busa) in September last year after a spat over transformation. Nafcoc quit Busa in 2009. Both organisations are calling on the government to prioritise black business development.

Nafcoc plans to use the influence of the BBC to grow its bank into a "mega bank" that will service the construction, retail, mining and property sectors.

It also plans to list one of its investment units on the JSE before the end of the year, probably its property portfolio.

The business organisation has also called on the government to pass legislation that would regulate and protect SA's small, micro and medium-sized enterprises by limiting foreign participation in the economy.

It plans to lobby the South African Local Government Association and relevant government departments to ensure that more than 51% of SA's prime land and the development of township and rural centre shopping malls be reserved for black business.

"This domain is strictly for local businessman, so foreigners only come in as real investors rather than as small business operators that compete with locals," Mr Mosena said. "So a company like Shoprite shouldn't come down (to townships and rural areas), but must partner with people in business there."

Nafcoc also wants the government to "scale down some social ministries" and create two new ministries - for black economic empowerment (BEE) and for small business - that will concentrate on creating wealth.

The BBC also proposed a small business ministry this month.

"The big guys and foreign internationals are calling the shots. We must give them a hiding and allow it so that everybody can participate," said Nafcoc deputy president Steve Skhosana.

"Black small business hasn't benefited from BEE," he said.

Nafcoc also wants the government to consider expropriating the assets of colluding companies that do not comply with competition rules.

The organisation was clearly emboldened by its conference last weekend. Nafcoc was reportedly broke in late 2010, with its head office staff splashing out on fancy cars for its council members. But the BBC, headed by SA's richest man, Patrice Motsepe, has been resurrected - and Nafcoc is its major constituent.

pickworthe@bdfm.co.za