London-based magazine International Banker has named Gideon Muriuki, Chief executive of Co-operative Bank of Kenya (Co-op Bank) as Africa’s banking CEO of the year, with the bank named as Africa’s most innovative retail banker due to its financial products for savings and credit co-operative societies (Saccos) and also small and medium scale enterprises.
Muriuki was honoured for changing the fortunes of Co-op Bank, a lender which was making loss (lost $3.3 million in 2001), to the fourth most profitable in Kenya last year (net profit: $105 million), with the co-operative movement retaining ownership.
According to a citation read by Editor-in-Chief of International Banker, Simon Brown, Muriuki had since his appointed as CEO in 2001
“turned around the bank from loss-making to one of East Africa’s fastest growing and most profitable banks.”
Brown read further that Muriuki’s foresight made him insist on having Co-operative Bank of Kenya retain its name even when expanding to other African countries, when it would have been easier and more prestigious to go as a successful Kenyan commercial bank.
According to the magazine, the expansion model of Co-op Bank whereby in conjunction with co-operative societies new business units spring up, like was done in Sudan, is an innovative business growth model.
The magazine added that, among other things, 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.