As Equity tops industry, will KCB roar back into the lead?

As Equity tops industry, will KCB roar back into the lead?

Equity Group Managing Director & CEO Dr. James Mwangi [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard] Equity Group founder Peter Munga knows well what to do in the face of failure: look for people to rescue the vision.

But for KCB Bank, hitting rock bottom has not been part of its story. Since 1896, when it started its operations in Zanzibar as a branch of the National Bank of India, growth has been an infectious strategy.

The two are now the largest banks in the East Africa region – sharply contrasting origins but both the face of the financial sector.

In 1993, Mr Munga was running a lender that was expected to fail. That year, nine banks were buried, leaving depositors to mourn their deposits as a postmortem pointed to reckless lending and general mismanagement. READ MORE

The banks that were liquidated were Postbank Credit, Trade Bank, Middle Africa Finance, Inter-Africa Credit Finance, Central Finance, Nairobi Finance, Diners Finance, Trade Finance and International Finance.

Equity Bank ’s burial date looked imminent—especially because it had been declared technically insolvent that year – having failed to cut its coat according to its cloth.

It was a vision on the edge for a lender that started as a building society, donning a modest house with a brown roof as its logo.

Munga had to convince potential investors that though the bank that started in October 1984 as Equity Building Society was on its knees, its vision was still proudly looking to the skies.

James Mwangi, now the chief executive, came in as finance, operations and strategy director in 1994. And the growth story set it.

“I had to make a choice between owning 100 per cent of a goat or 10 per cent of an elephant. I chose the latter,” Munga once quipped while reminiscing on the 1993 moment.

Twenty-eight years later, a question that would have looked dumb then can now be asked: Has Equity taken over for good or will KCB still roar back to the top?KCB’s market lead, perhaps symbolised by its emblem of a roaring lion as the king of the jungle, is under threat.Chief Executive Joshua Oigara says the story of the neck-and-neck competition with Equity is more about Kenya’s financial institutions getting better than that of competing to lead the pack.But he is not lost to the fact that there is always the top among the best. And becoming the best is preceded by becoming better—call it continuous […]

Stay in the Know!

Sign up for the latest news and information on African Companies and Economy.

By signing up, you agree to receive MoneyInAfrica offers, promotions and other commercial messages. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply