Top 25 Most Impactful Chairs of Boards Influencing Business in 2023

Upon the new appointment, Andrew Kairu noted that the search firm helped guide the process, eliminate bias and ensure KCB got the best candidate for the job.

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Andrew Wambari Kairu

BOARD CHAIR – KCB

Andrew Wambari Kairu holds the position of Chairman of the Board of KCB, Kenya’s largest financial services company in terms of total assets. Equity Bank ranks second.   

 Appointed in 2018, Kairu took over from Ngeny Biwott, who had previously chaired the Board since 2013. Upon his appointment, Andrew was not new to the Group, having served as an independent non-executive Board Director of both the KCB Group as well as KCB Bank Kenya.

A career banker with extensive business experience, Andrew has guided the KCB Board in perfect tandem with the bank’s strategy dubbed ‘Beyond Banking’, that brings to light KCB’s potential to traverse the limits of a traditional bank as the cornerstone of success.

In 2019, under Kairu’s chairmanship, KCB acquired the National Bank of Kenya (NBK) and completely turned it around, giving the bank a stronger edge to play a larger role in driving its financial inclusion and economic empowerment agenda in East Africa, while simultaneously building a robust and financially sustainable organisation.

In 2021, KCB acquired 62.06 percent stake in Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR) from the British financial services conglomerate Atlas Mara, later increasing the stake to 76.67 percent by acquiring an additional 14.61 share percentage.

The Group’s latest regional expansion drive is the acquisition of Trust Merchant Bank (TMB) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The acquisition raises KCB’s asset base to KES 1.5 trillion. Late last year, KCB announced in a statement that it had received approvals from regulators in Nairobi, Kinshasa and the region’s trading bloc, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Competition Commission, to buy 85 percent of TMB, and the acquisition was completed in December 2022.

KCB Group Plc Chairman Andrew Wambari Kairu and Oliver Meisenberg, the CEO Trust Merchant Bank (TMB)
exchanging documents on August 2, 2022. When KCB entered into a definitive agreement with shareholders of
Trust Merchant Bank to acquire a majority stake.

The gain allows KCB access to the extensive DRC market, with an estimated population of 90 million, expanding its foothold in the East African Community’s (EAC) markets, and providing customers access to a larger banking network and an expanded array of services. KCB’s expansion drive has seen it become one of the largest commercial banks in the region.

For now, KCB is keeping a close eye on developments in Ethiopia’s regulatory space, as the country is in the process of liberalising its banking sector, with the aim of putting an end to the decades-long restrictive banking policy that has prevented the operation of foreign banks. KCB has already begun scanning some of the local banks in Ethiopia for a viable partnership that would allow its entry into the Ethiopian market.

In addition, the Group recently incorporated two new wholly owned subsidiaries: KCB Asset Management and KCB Investment Bank, to venture into wealth management and investment banking, respectively. 

In 2022, following the engagement of a leading global executive search and management consulting firm, Heidrick and Struggles, Andrew oversaw the smooth and seamless Chief Executive Officer (CEO) transition from Joshua Oigara to Paul Russo. Upon the new appointment, Kairu noted that the search firm helped guide the process, eliminate bias and ensure KCB got the best candidate for the job.

Staying true to its ‘Beyond Banking’ strategy, in September 2022, KCB was named the Best Bank in Sustainable Finance, by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), in recognition of its efforts in creating a more sustainable business enterprise environment through its deliberate socio-economic interventions. The award recognizes financial sector players for their commendable progress in creating long-term value by funding initiatives designed to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, build a resilient socio-economic environment, and help build a more sustainable future for humanity.

KCB has adopted nine of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a specific focus on positively impacting the environment, society, and economy. These are tracked through various key performance indicators that are championed by different business units within the organisation.

The Group has been accelerating sustainable finance not only in Kenya but across its operational region, consequently accelerating the transition to a low-carbon resilient economy. Currently, the bank has set a target of transitioning 25 percent of its total loan portfolio to green investments by 2025, as part of its Net Zero ambition.

With KCB’s intent on sticking to its path of sustainable banking, alongside expanding its presence, Kairu remains focused and positive that his leadership coupled with that of his board and executive management is so far doing an outstanding job, and will continue to do so with the same gusto. 

Andrew attended the renowned Lenana School in Nairobi, later joining the University of Nairobi (UoN) where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) degree with a focus on Business Administration.

He has attended numerous leadership development programs from prestigious academic institutions including Harvard Business School and Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) in the United States of America (USA).

Kairu began his career in 1986 at Citi, initially in Nairobi for a few years and later in London, United Kingdom (UK), where he rose through the ranks to become Head of Emerging Markets Financial Institutions. He held this position until 2004.

Andrew then joined Ghana International Bank PLC in the UK, where he was Chief Operations Officer (COO) and later Executive Director until 2015.

Kairu is a former Board Trustee of the Caterham and Warlingham Citizens Advice Bureau (2017-2019) and a former Member of the Audit Committee for the Commonwealth Secretariat (2018-2020).

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Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Kenya’s Dr Hanningtone Gaya, holds a PhD in Commerce in Business Management from Nelson Mandela University (NMU), is viewed as an authority in country branding and is the founder chairman of the Brand Kenya Board.

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