Co-op Bank executive named top African banker

By Brian Ngugi | May 26, 2023
African Banker of the Year 2023, Esther Kariuki. [Gardy Chacha, Standard]

The head of Agriculture Business at the Co-operative Bank of Kenya, Esther Kariuki, has been named the African Banker of the Year 2023.

A statement from the bank said Ms Kariuki was recognised for making small-scale farmers bankable by creating an end-to-end credit administration process that has ensured a near total loan repayment performance, thereby showcasing that smallholders involved in primary production can sustainably run their farming enterprise for decent livelihoods.

She was announced the winner during the annual meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) that is currently underway in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

The Banker of the Year Award was created by AfDB to recognise individuals who have demonstrated outstanding ability to ensure their bank plays an active role in socio-economic development.

The awards committee also lauded Kariuki for the rollout of a digital marketplace known as Co-op Bank Soko.

The online platform connects the various agriculture value chains onto which smallholders can directly place their produce for sale, purchase farm inputs and access Co-op Bank’s financial services. 

Already 750,000 farmers have been enrolled on the platform, the bank said.

More recently at Ol Kalou in Nyandarua County, Co-op Bank in collaboration with key institutions in the potato value chain launched the Potato Consortium, which has crafted a value chain to give potato farmers structured access to inputs and top markets including key food retailers and restaurants.

The consortium will ensure all potato foods such as the popular french fries will not have to be imported.

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