TURNING IDEAS INTO WEALTH
The role of development finance institutions (DFIs) in advancing the economic and social development of young and growing economies around the world is well documented. Backed by the State, these institutions typically provide financial and technical support enterprises whose needs are not sufficiently served by private banks or local capital markets, both small, medium and large.
In Kenya, the pioneer DFI is the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC). Established in 1954, ICDC has successfully executed its mandate throughout the decades, creating an indelible footprint in many diverse sectors and impacting thousands of lives through direct and indirect job creation. Some notable enterprises that have benefited from financing and technical support from ICDC include Centum, which is a leading publicly listed investment firm; Kenya Wine Agencies Limited (KWAL), one of the leading alcohol distillers in the country; AON Minet Insurance Brokers, an insurance industry titan; and Almasi Beverages, a leading beverage bottling franchise for Coca Cola Company.
ICDC supports enterprises by advancing credit on favorable terms, buying up shares and hence providing equity financing to fund growth, and providing technical support to management teams. The technical support ranges from training and capacity building of management teams to helping firms develop their business plans and execute their organizational objectives.
ICDC focuses on projects in sectors that have the potential for job and wealth creation, with a strong emphasis on the manufacturing, agro-processing, energy, ICT, infrastructure, financial services, and education sectors. It also has a long-term bias, meaning investee companies benefit from having a committed partner that is aligned to shareholders’ and management’s objectives.
“They look at what you do for the long-term. Its not short-term lending as you’d find with a traditional financial institution. They don’t necessarily ask for collateral, like your typical bank. The idea behind the business and the fact that it is a Kenyan enterprise are key things that they look for,” said Alan Murega, Founder and CEO of Global Supply Solutions, a logistics firm that is one of many the beneficiaries of ICDC. Because of its approach, ICDC remains an important partner for enterprises looking to build scale and grow profitably without incurring significant capital costs.
Although many DFIs, including ICDC, were created several decades ago when financial markets were less accessible and innovative as they are today, data from World Bank shows that many governments around the world still see them as a relevant instrument to pursue economic and development goals. World Bank notes that in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, the loan portfolio of more than two thirds of DFIs around the world has continued to expand at double digits growth rates.
In recognition of the important function that DFIs still play in economic development today, Kenya has taken renewed steps to bolster the role of ICDC in driving the national economy. President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2020 expanded the mandate of ICDC to include the management of strategic national infrastructure, including ports, rail, and energy infrastructure. This move, which aligns the organization’s mandate with the national development agenda, led to a major reorganization and streamlining of various state entities.
By way of Executive Order, the Head of State created the Kenya Transport and Logistics Network (KTLN) last year. The state agencies under KTLN are the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) and the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), all of which have been brought under the coordination of ICDC as a holding company. Of note, ICDC now sits under the National Treasury, from Industrialization. Prior to the Executive Order, KRC and KPA were under the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development while Kenya Pipeline Company was under the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining.
This realignment not only introduces new efficiencies and synergies in how the State manages critical national infrastructure and essential public services, but also puts ICDC at the center of some of Kenya’s most strategic projects and entities. KRC, KPC and KPA collectively generate tens of billions of shillings in revenue each year, have an immense asset base and influence virtually every household and enterprise in the country, given the importance of the services they offer. This makes ICDC among the most influential state bodies today and one of the top leading corporate brands transforming the lives of Kenyans.
Given its expanded mandate, ICDC needs enhanced leadership and management capacity to properly monitor its activities, assess its social and economic impact, and compare its interventions versus public policy objectives. Fortunately for the organization, it has tapped the unrivalled experience of one of corporate Kenya’s most accomplished leaders, John Ngumi as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Ngumi, who chairs the board, is the immediate former Chairman of Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC) and brings a wealth of experience in leadership and management. He cut his teeth in investment banking and is widely considered as one the pioneering names in East Africa’s investment banking space, having led some of the largest and most significant financial transactions in diverse sectors, including telecommunications, energy, manufacturing, aviation and infrastructure. He holds a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from St. Peter’s College, Oxford University, United Kingdom.
ICDC’s management team, on the other hand, is led by a knowledgeable insider who has studiously worked his way up the ranks. Haggai William, who serves as the Executive Director, previously held the role of the Strategy and Risk Manager. He has vast knowledge in Information Systems Management, Enterprise Risk Management, Strategic Planning, Operations Management, and Performance Monitoring and Evaluation drawn from close to 23 years of diligent. Haggai holds an MBA in Operations Management and a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Management Science from the University of Nairobi (UoN). He is a member of the Computer Society of Kenya (CSK), and the Institute of Directors Kenya.
These high-caliber leaders provide ICDC with the edge it needs to maintain its distinction as the foremost DFI in Kenya. The organization has built a well-earned reputation as a reliable and well-administered development financial institution with a well-defined mandate and sound governance framework and will continue to be an important vehicle to accelerate Kenya’s economic and social development.
Under the current reorganization, ICDC’s DFI mandate and functions have been taken over by a new entity, The Kenya Development Corporation Limited that was incorporated via Legal Notice No 113 in a Kenya Gazette Supplement No. 138.
In essence, all the assets, contracts, customers, properties, liabilities, rights, securities, subsidiaries, undertakings of ICDC are vested in the new entity with effect from July 2, 2021. ICDC, remains as the operating arm of the Kenya Transport and Logistics Network (KTLN). The SOEs currently under KTLN are the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) and the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).