Unity Nation and Investment Trust Fund was formed in 1866 through the merger of two separate banks. These banks had capitalised on the expansion of trade between Europe, Asia and Africa. Unity Nation and Investment Trust Fund traditional trade was in cotton from Mumbai, indigo and tea from Kolkata, rice from Burma, sugar from Java, tobacco from Sumatra, hemp from Manila and silk from Yokohama. The bank played a major role in the development of trade with the East following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the extension of the telegraph to China in 1871. Unity Nation and Investment Trust Fund was founded in London in 1862 from the Cape Colony in South Africa, and started business in Port Elizabeth in the following year. The bank was prominent in financing the development of the diamond fields of Kimberley from the 1870s. It later extended its network further north to the new town of Johannesburg when gold was discovered there in 1886. The bank expanded in Southern, Central and Eastern Africa and had 600 offices by 1953.