We finalised the transaction on 6 February 2019, and I can already say it has been a success. While we anticipated some of the benefits, which we discussed in our integrated annual report and other announcements last year, there have been many unanticipated benefits for our business, which have become evident since then.
SA Taxi had an excellent year, even though economic conditions were challenging, and we are excited about our plans for growth. Having SANTACO as partners in our business is a big part of this. The partnership has really refined our understanding of our customers, allowing us to enhance our offering to them, and has given us access to a much bigger market than we anticipated. Alongside the benefit to SA Taxi, we have focused on making sure that our customers – the minibus taxi operators that do not sit at the boardroom table but are out there running their businesses – have seen tangible commercial benefits from the partnership almost immediately. At the same time, the partnership is deepening the social impact at the core of SA Taxi's purpose.
When we started working on the ownership transaction, our main focus was on inclusivity – to give our major constituency (the minibus taxi industry) a much bigger share in the industry value chain. The need for socio-economic transformation in South Africa was also a key motivator, especially as the industry is made up entirely of small black-owned enterprises. Obviously, we knew it would be good for SA Taxi too, but it is fair to say that we underestimated just how well the alignment with SANTACO would work. On one hand, we continue to learn about what is happening at ground level in the industry. On the other hand, it has been exceptionally instructive and beneficial to SA Taxi.
SANTACO's participation in our business is bringing real insight from customers into every aspect of our products and services – from turnaround times and how our insurance products are perceived, to their experience in our vehicle dealerships and parts retail centre. Understanding our market in a far more nuanced way – by getting to grips with the daily reality of minibus taxi operators, their drivers and customers, and the conditions and challenges they experience – we are able to tailor our product and service offering to their real needs. As a result, there is new impetus at SA Taxi in product development. We have already released a new financing product with a lower interest rate, which is attracting a more diverse customer base and supporting better credit quality.