The FNB Fundaba Project: what was that all about?

From October 2018 to June 2019, I found myself on a very interesting project. As part of a four-person team (including a project manager, a researcher, a writer, and an editor), the company I contracted to was tasked by First National Bank to write a series of articles for a knowledge base that they were compiling. The knowledge base would form part of a new banking product, called Fundaba, aimed at the SME and emerging entrepreneurial market.

“First National Bank said on Tuesday it had launched a new digital app-based entrepreneurship learning programme and a non-fee bank account in response to the barriers faced by small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa.

Fundaba, a free interactive e-learning platform developed inside the FNB banking app, comprises multimedia content such as videos, podcasts, quizzes, templates and tools for all FNB customers to learn about entrepreneurship and running a business.

The bank said it had conducted extensive research and worked with hundreds of local business owners and mentors to provide users with critical knowledge and practical help as they navigate the journey from incubating a business idea, to starting, running and growing one in South Africa.” (view the full article, in IOL Business Report, here).

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As the writer on the team, I was responsible for compiling over 100 500-word articles, and 12 2500-word articles, on various stages of the business process. These articles included base-level information such as estimating the market demand for a product, calculating gross margin, identifying suitable suppliers and testing business assumptions. It also included middle-range concepts such as identifying sources of financing, types of business structures, the legal and licensing environment and preparing for Day 1 of the launch.

Furthermore, the articles included higher-level concepts, such as corporate governance, human resources and recruitment, sales and marketing, financial and operational management, innovation and customisation, scaling and investment readiness, and mergers, acquisitions, and exits.

The knowledge base is available only to Fundaba clients, and some were used to create an animated video series. To that end, I also worked with Sea Monster, the animators, to create the content and scripting for the video segments.

Due to Non-Disclosure Agreements, I cannot provide the text for any of the articles, nor may I comment on the format or order that they took, apart from what I have already provided. I can say, however, that I was part of a two-month recruitment process, where articles were tested by an FNB-led focus group, and my style, a blend of narrative storytelling and content, was selected. I took on the role of feature writer and – together with my team and the focus and management groups – helped to create a character that would resonate with the intended audience. I developed that character through the 100-plus articles, as he moved his fictitious business from one stage to the next, facing the challenges, pitfalls, and triumphs that many new business people face.

It was our hope that we would create a narrative that resonated and, according to the focus groups, project team and the management teams on both our side, FNB’s and the animators, we succeeded in doing that.