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No doubt, generations can bank on Equity

By By Dominic Odipo | June 11th 2012

By Dominic Odipo

A quiet but very effective leadership and management revolution is raging through the Kenyan banking industry, which could have a far-reaching impact, not only on how all Kenyan banks operate but also on how Vision 2030, the country’s flagship development blueprint, is to be achieved.

It is a revolution of its own kind in which top talent assemblies comprising some of Kenya’s brightest young men and women are being brought together under the roof of one bank and then their capacities unleashed to flow upwards and sideways, as if by osmosis, not only to the highest levels of the bank but way beyond the bank itself.

And, as you might have guessed, that quiet revolution is being transformatively pioneered and engineered by the Equity Bank Group.

Two recent events, one international and the other local, can help to reinforce these statements.

Last week, at a ceremony held in Monte Carlo, Monaco, Dr James Mwangi, the chief executive officer of the Equity Bank Group and chairman of the Vision 2030 Delivery Board, was formally recognised as the winner of the 2012 Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year award, the first Kenyan ever to receive this, the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs.

According to the information from Monte Carlo, Dr Mwangi came out on top of 50 other top entrepreneurs from around the world to win this award, which honours the best entrepreneurs from all over the globe who showcase vision, creativity, perseverance and success.

And, at the local level, on Friday, April 2, this year the Equity Group Foundation hosted a luncheon at the KICC in Nairobi for the parents, guardians and friends of the 250 best performers in the 2011 KCSE examinations from every district in which then bank operates.

prestigious award

All of these top performing students from all over the country were present, including the country’s top performer that year that came from St Peter’s Seminary in Kakamega County.

These top performers were present that Friday as an integral part of Equity Bank’s University Sponsorship, Leadership and Mentoring Programme under which the bank hires, nurtures, mentors and develops these bright young men and women as future transformational leaders.

 All of these top performers were then immediately hired by the bank and are now working at Equity Bank branches all over the country.

When these top interns proceed to each one’s university of choice to study whatever they like, the bank will pay all their university fees and allowances, all the time keeping its doors open for them, should they wish to return during their holidays or after they graduate to work for it.

But the bank’s internship programme for the country’s top performers does not stop there. These young men and women are also being mentored and exposed to the examinations and scholarships that can get them admitted to the world’s top universities such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton in the US and other such universities in Europe.

Since this programme was started in 1998, more than 1,300 of the country’s brightest young men and women have been absorbed into the Equity Bank system and more than 60 of them have already found their way into the world’s top universities, including London School of Economics and Cornell University in the United States.

Right under the noses of the rest of the Kenyan banks, (and all other Kenyan private and public enterprises for that matter) Equity Bank is quietly gathering Kenya’s brightest young men and women, sponsoring them to universities within the country and leaving its doors open for them to return and work should they choose to do so.

This, as you can imagine, is an innovation and intervention, which is bound to have far-reaching consequences for the Kenyan banking industry and, in a way, for the country as a whole.

If, every year, you assemble the country’s brightest young men and women, cater for their immediate financial needs, and then mentor, nurture and develop then into transformational leaders, there is virtually no limit to what such young people can achieve, both for themselves and for the organisation for which they work.

selection process

In terms of national cohesion, integration and transparency, there is another facet of this Equity Bank internship programme, which the rest of the country needs to take note of.

The bank does not itself select its new interns. Kenya National Examinations Council in effect, does the final selections. The bank simply takes the names presented to it by the Council and then proceeds accordingly. That way there is no nepotism, tribalism and any other form of favouritism in the selection process.

If the rest of the Kenyan banking fraternity does not take due note of what is happening at Equity Bank, it will simply not be able to compete with this bank group in the next five years.

No wonder Dr Mwangi is winning top international recognitions every other year.

And that statement you can take to your bank, whichever it is.

The writer is a lecturer and consultant in Nairobi.

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