“Because it is a Catalan bank…”, Mercè Comas
Interview with one of the 148 founders of 11Onze. Discover the people behind 11Onze.
Mercè Comas, entrepreneur, has been running Moto Auto Juni for more than 25 years. Founding investor of 11Onze Banc since its beginnings. Moto Auto Juni, an SME business in the automotive sector with more than 10 employees and 2,500 m² of facilities dedicated to the sale, maintenance and repair of cars and vans. Mercè is from Catellbisbal, very active, involved in many social and Catalan associations.
Why did you invest in 11Onze Banc?
The first reason is because it is a Catalan bank, and I want Catalan independence. So I think it is essential. We thought a lot about why things are not done well, and I really saw that it was necessary to have a Catalan bank, and also because I see that all the banks that are currently in Catalonia are eminently Spanish. I have had to deal with banks for business matters and it is getting worse and worse.
We also need a bank that, apart from being pro-independence and working towards it, we need a bank that works for the territory and for small businesses, which I know very well, that are desperate because there is no way that the banks will listen to them.
I think that the structure of 11Onze as it stands can help to revive the territory, the country.
What do you think will be most liked about the 11Onze project?
From my point of view, the project that will be the most popular will be with the pro-independence movement, who will accept it if they see that they have a banking licence that does not belong to the Bank of Spain, but a European one that cannot be intervened by Spain. And on an economic scale, it will be very nice to have a bank where you can go to explain your grievances, because up to now you can’t do that at any bank. It’s not right that a bank, when things are going well and you buy a product that they are interested in selling, they roll out a red carpet for you and at the slightest problem you have, they turn their face away from you. I think that 11Onze will show its face because that is its philosophy. If the country’s economy grows, it will be easier to move forward with independence projects.
Nowadays, banks are cashpoint and they don’t want you to be there. They want to deal less and less with people. I think that in 11Onze this will not be the case, the mere fact that they say that they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, means that they will respond immediately. Not like, for example, when they close the telephone enquiries at eight o’clock on Friday evening. And if you have a problem and you have to make a transfer, nobody answers you.
What do you expect from 11Onze as an investor?
As an investor, I expect this money to grow, as it is only logical. That 11Onze Bank, after the investment, will give you a return on your money, having grown. You don’t just do it for the good of the country… if you are looking for investors for the good of the country they won’t pay much attention to you, you are looking for a profitable business, a company that makes money, how this money is used… an investor expects its investment to produce dividends.
Would you invite other people to join the 11Onze project, what would you tell them?
Of course I would invite them. Firstly because of the country-building aspect. And then because they should think of it as a proximity bank.
What strength would you highlight from Mercè Comas, as a businesswoman?
Persistence. I have sometimes been told, “you are very persistent”. If I want something, I don’t stop. If I believe in something, I do it. I don’t leave things unfinished, whenever possible. I am a person who starts a company, a project, I put my mind to it, I work at it. As an entrepreneur, I define myself as persistent.
What has been the key to your businesses’ success over the last twenty-five years?
We made the right decision at the right time. We bought some land and settled where we are now, outside the village. It was the right decision, to leave one place and go to another. I think our success is also due to the fact we are honest. And very importantly, I don’t believe in a business where the workers are unhappy. I don’t believe in businesses that have people who are unhappy, I don’t believe that the work can be done with unhappy staff.