Co-op Bank scoops top international award

Innovation in Retail Banking award certificate

By Patel Okumu

London, UK: International Banker magazine held its annual awards for acknowledging the top banking institutions across the Middle East and Africa. The Co-operative Bank of Kenya received top awards in two categories: Innovation in Retail Banking and Best CEO Africa.

The International Banker magazine offers a global view of banking and brings in-depth analysis on the people and innovations within financial services that drive the industry forward. Its annual awards recognize banking excellence globally. Honoured with a dual award, to acknowledge and celebrate innovation and leadership, the Co-operative Bank of Kenya topped the awards lists this year.

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The first, and most prestigious, award was Banking CEO of the Year, Africa, awarded to Dr. Gideon Muriuki (Co-operative Bank of Kenya). As the head of the bank, Dr. Muriuki receives recognition for promoting the co-operative banking model throughout Kenya and his leadership in driving a sustainable growth model. In particular, Dr. Gideon Muriuki has demonstrated remarkable foresight by insisting that the Co-operative Bank of Kenya retain its identity as a co-operative bank even when expanding into additional parts of Africa outside Kenya, in spite of the fact that it would have been easier for the enterprise to proceed as a successful Kenyan commercial bank. Expanding to other African markets, beginning with South Sudan, by way of joint ventures with co-operative societies in those countries is a futuristic business model that is likely to deliver inclusive growth and a more equitable sharing of the benefits of the rising prosperity of African economies.

Dr. Muriuki has since turned around the bank from loss-making to one of East Africa’s fastest-growing and most profitable banks. The bank has achieved consistent year-on-year growth in results, substantial growth in customer base and expansion of services into Sudan – a lucrative growth area for the Kenyan banking sector. He has furthermore set up numerous bank led initiatives to benefit the community.

The second award was made for Innovation in Retail Banking, Kenya. The Co-operative Bank of Kenya has driven the adoption of banking services amid a growing economy. International Banker was particularly impressed by the bank’s commitment to providing scholarships for underprivileged students, green energy financing packages and low-interest loans for small and medium-sized enterprises, which may prove crucial in terms of Kenya’s future economic growth.

The Co-operative Bank of Kenya has demonstrated a consistent commitment to providing inclusive retail banking services in Kenya. Under Dr. Muriuki’s leadership, the bank has successfully pioneered a retail banking model that goes beyond investment in conventional bank-owned channels such as branches, ATMs, agencies and electronic banking. The bank has invested substantially in over-the-counter banking services and payment card systems operated by co-operatives to serve their members, which currently number over two million. The bank’s support by way of affordable financing, capacity-building and critical technical support has enabled over four hundred co-operatives to offer front-office banking (FOSAs) to over two million banking customers. In addition, the bank’s huge investment in a payments switch (Coopswitch) that has enabled Kenya’s vibrant Savings and Credit Co-operatives (Saccos) to access card payment services worldwide, is a ground-breaking innovation towards achieving financial access to the majority.

A spokesperson for International Banker explained, “The Co-operative Bank of Kenya is one of Kenya’s fastest-growing banks and has risen to become one the country’s biggest five banks. Having been in business for over forty years, it has seen its highs and lows but has overcome these by continually evolving its approaches, which can be especially difficult for co-operatives who typically struggle to drive innovation and internal reform.”

When asked to comment, Dr. Muriuki noted, “The over 10 million-member co-operative movement that holds a 65% majority stake in the bank, is the face of Kenyan people, and with continued teamwork and innovation, the bank will play a pivotal role in the growth of the regional economy.”

About International Banker: International Banker is magazine produced by Finance Publishing. Finance Publishing is one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative analysis on finance, international banking, and world affairs. They deliver information with excellence through a wide range of accessible formats, from newsletters and magazines to conferences.

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Co-op Bank International Award Best CEO Africa