Equity Bank CEO to address G8 meeting

Jun 2007
Kenya, June, 02 2007 - Equity Bank Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Mwangi, takes to the global stage once again when he addresses leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) countries in Berlin on Monday.The summit, a meeting of the eight countries that shape the world economy, runs from Monday to Friday next week.

US President, Mr George W Bush, is expected to attend as well as leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Mwangi’s keynote address is entitled, Contributions of Micro-credits to Overcoming the Spell of Poverty Also in Africa. It will be followed by a roundtable discussion on making poverty history, a goal G8 countries are under pressure to achieve.

Briefing journalists in Nairobi before flying out for the function, the banker said banking could initiate meaningful change in people’s lives.

"Poverty in this country is defined by the banking infrastructure," Mwangi said.

"Our country has become a conveyor belt for channelling resources out (of the country). It’s time we got out of colonial mentality that all good things must come from Europe and benefited from our own banking systems."

He said the banking industry must make Africa better to avert the only war that will be fought in the future — the war between the haves and have-nots.

Improving accessibility to financial services

Mwangi, who also addressed the G8 gathering in Gleneagles last year, will be speaking on his pet subject of improving accessibility to financial services by low-income sectors of society outside the mainstream economy.

His ideas are based on what he has achieved with Equity Bank, a former building society. Equity has enabled access to banking to over one million people, a third of all bank account holders. However, the bank has only about three per cent of total assets held by banks locally.

Eighty per cent of Kenya’s income earning population remains unbanked due to the absence of models for low-cost service provision.

The G8 Summit will see other renowned international leaders from public, private and civil society organisation address the gathering of the powerful nations on matters affecting the developing world.

Africa has been key in Ms Angela Merkel’s agenda as she plays host for the first time since taking over the reigns of power as German Chancellor.

Mwangi will also have dinner with the G8 Presidents during a retreat at the coastal town of Heiligendamm to receive a joint global microfinance award with Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunis. The latter was awarded for his work with the Grameen Bank, a microfinance institution credited with helping empower poor communities in Bangladesh.

The duo, reputed as the developing world’s leading lights on microfinance, will then speak to another mass movement parade of the German Protestant Church in Cologne on success in Kenya and India and how the learnings can apply to the movement.

Mwangi said he would put a strong case for micro finance issues and the need to promote innovative partnerships among governments, donors and international organisations, banks, NGOs, the private sector, academia and micro finance clients.

Source : The Standard

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