Co-op Bank’s newest baby fulfills CEO’s dream of a ‘Blessed people of Kenya’ Bank

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By Boy Matumbai

There is a new kid on the block among the financial sector in Kenya rearing to do tbusiness differently. 

Kingdom Bank, a subsidiary of giant listed lender, Cooperative Bank of Kenya, is a culmination of years of Group Chief Executive Officer Gideon Muriuki’s resolve to give the bank a fresh paint coated with piety, with God being integral part of their operations.

More curiously, Dr Muriuki long envisaged God’s blessings, not only for his organization which he fondly christened ‘the Kingdom’ – but for the people of Kenya, perhaps laying credence to the religious foundation Co-op Bank so cherishes in the industry.

Close to 20 years after the MD’s proclamation of Co-op Bank’s faith-based foundation in doing business, the birth of Kingdom Bank upon the recent successful acquisition of Jamii Bora Bank, vindicates Dr Muriuki’s cherished desire to do things with Christian values and ethos.

It is important to note that Dr Muriuki conceived the divine byword against a background of monumental losses the bank was posting at the time he took over as managing director, replacing disgraced former Olkalau MP, Erastus Mureithi in 2001.

To live up to this dream, Co-op Bank late August completed the acquisition of Jamii Bora Bank, bagging a 90 per cent, Sh1 billion controlling stake in the financial institution that was tottering on the brink of collapse, before re-branding it to Kingdom Bank.

Financial analysts say Kingdom Bank is primed to uniquely add value to Co-op Bank’s commitment to meeting its customers’ unique needs especially Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), groups and individual businesses.

The latest subsidiary now provides Co-op Bank a perfect opportunity to deepen micro-small and medium-sized entities banking, microfinance, youth and women banking, asset finance and leasing.

Already, the bank has 17 branches and nearly half-a-million customers, with sights firmly set on building dominance in Coo-op Bank’s growth strategy that traditionally seeks to build dominance in the bank’s catchment area, Kenya, as opposed to cross- border exploits.

The phenomenal arrival of Kingdom Bank now brings to six the number of Co-op Bank Group’s subsidiaries that also include Cooperative Bank, Kingdom Securities, Cooperative Bank of Sudan, Co-op Trust Investment Services and Co-op Consultancy Insurance Agency.

With a high-profile board that includes Margaret Karangatha (chair), Dr Muriuki (member), Macloud Malonza (member), Julius Sitienei (member) and Anthony Mburu (CEO), Kingdom Bank may as well position itself as the anti-dot to the missing link in the SME financing and beyond.

Dr Muriuki’s vision for a faith-based banking powerhouse and the eventual actualization of the novel Kingdom Bank brings to mind his multiple achievements that have seen Co-operative Bank scoop successive top-notch awards and global recognition.

Only recently, the bank placed Kenya on the global financial map, with the internationally acclaimed Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) adding the top lender to the coveted ranks of its Frontiers Index Small Cap Index.

More significantly, Co-op Bank, alongside the local chapter of the British African Tobacco (BAT), carried Kenya’s flag high up there, being the sole African country that produced corporate organisations on the index that lists preeminent blue-chip listed stocks from select frontier markets of Asia, Middle East, parts of Europe and Africa.

The inclusion in the index effectively raises the visibility of a listed company among potential investors keen on latching onto opportunity in frontier markets.

The MSCI Frontier Markets Indexes are an embodiment of large, mid-sized capitalisation establishments and offer a broad representation of the equity opportunity set while taking investment requirements into consideration within each Frontier Market.

So far, 32 countries are classified by MSCI as Frontier markets. 23 of these fall in the category of MSCI Frontier Markets Index. MSCI’s client portfolio includes the who-is-who in the banking industry, asset managers and wealth managers across the globe.

It provides a broad-based solutions model that cuts across risk management, portfolio management, managed solutions, regulatory solutions and fixed income analytics.

Co-op Bank’s feat on the global scene follows a streak of high profile accomplishments in the recent years that continue to tag Kenya along the global financial market.

In 2015, for instance, the bank scooped the esteemed Bank of the Year Financial Inclusion Award under the auspices of the globally respected London-based Financial Times, navigating through a stiff challenge from over 50 other entries from all over the world.

Earlier in 2014, Co-op Bank received the VISA Co-brand Championship Award, not to mention two MoneyGram awards the bank scooped for turning out tops in the Best Receiving Agent and Best Agent Marketing Investment categories.

As if 2014 was its year, the bank also ran away with twin honours in the Best Bank in Retail Banking and Best Bank in Microfinance categories during the 2014 East African Banking Awards gala outing.

What’s more, Co-op Bank would in the same year be recognized by the International Banker Magazine as the Best Innovation in Retail Banking outfit in the magazine’s 2014 Africa and Middle East Banking Awards.

And to cap this roller-coaster term, Co-op Bank’s high achieving Chief Executive Officer, Muriuki, was in 2014 voted the Bank CEO of the Year in Africa, a feat largely attributable to his ability to demonstrate remarkable foresight in safeguarding the bank’s identity in its expansionist tendencies beyond the country.

Other notable accomplishments include its recognition as the Most Green Bank in 2013, Bank of the Year in Kenya and Best Company in Corporate Governance in 2011.

Boy Matumbai is a Consulting Editor and Editorial Director at Byline Media Services, a consultancy specializing in media-driven Public Relations, Publishing and Marketing Communications. Email bernardboy101@gmail.com