GIDEON MURIUKILondon-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.

Muriuki also fostered the bank’s listing on Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) in 2008 via an Initial Public Offering (IPO) making Sh2.3 billion ($27 million), an amount it has almost quadrupled now.

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”

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