BOARD CHAIR – ARISE BV
Revered finance and banking guru Philip Odera was appointed the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Arise BV in January 2023.
Headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Arise is a $2 billion pioneer African investment company endorsed by three reputable cornerstone investors, that is, Norfund, Rabobank, and FMO.
Arise partners with sustainable locally owned financial services providers in sub-Saharan Africa that are looking to maintain their independence whilst receiving financial expertise and long-term capital. Some of the African banks under the Arise investment portfolio include Equity Bank Group (Kenya), EcoBank Group (Togo), National Microfinance Bank (NMB) in Tanzania, Development Finance Company of Uganda Bank (DFCU) in Uganda, and Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco) in Zambia, just to mention a few.
Upon Philip’s appointment, Gavin Tipper, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Arise mentioned that he is excited to be working with Odera. “Philip brings significant industry expertise to the Arise Board. His extensive experience and knowledge of the African financial services sector will play an important role in the next phase of the company’s growth, as it works to expand its investment portfolio and deliver on its mandate of spurring economic activity on the African continent,” he commented.
With well over three decades of experience in the world of finance, Odera is well equipped as he steers the Arise BV Board, lending his pecuniary prowess towards the actualisation of the firm’s goals. In Philip’s words, the novel chairmanship role quietly demonstrates that Kenyans can comfortably play on the global stage, a position previously primarily reserved for international honchos.
Philip is also the Group Chair of the Board of Letshego Holdings, a leading Pan-African retail financial services company based in Gaborone, Botswana, and with a footprint in 11 African countries. Established over 21 years ago, the Group leverages digitisation to support its purpose of ‘improving lives’ by expanding access to simple and inclusive financial solutions.
Philip served as a non-executive Board Director from 2019, and in June 2022 he was appointed Board Chair of the Group. Since ascending to the position, Odera has been guiding Letshego towards stabilising its business, the Group’s primary focus of the past year, despite the ongoing turbulent macroeconomic conditions.
In 2022, Letshego’s total income increased by 6 percent year-on-year, driven by growth in non-interest income that increased by 43 percent, as well as strong growth in insurance income of 21 percent, to USD 17.4 million from USD 14.9 million the previous year.
Letshego continues to progress by building an increasingly digitised yet accessible customer proposition. In the last year, prospective customers reached over one million, with a total of 22 percent of Letshego customers originating loans on the LetsGo Digital Mall, a Letshego application that allows the convenience of applying for a loan from the comfort of one’s home.
In addition, the Group expanded its social impact portfolios by launching products for micro and small entrepreneur (MSE) working capital, purchase order (PO) financing, education solutions and affordable housing – all accessible via the LetsGo Digital Mall.
This year, under the leadership of Odera, Letshego has commenced its next phase of evolution centred on improving and deepening customer centricity and experience, while leveraging installed digital assets and diversifying product offerings to grow revenue and optimise costs.
Over and above the board positions mentioned, Philip is Board Chairman of the insurance firm Liberty Kenya Holdings, as well as Advisory Board Chairman of SNDBX | The Village Experts, a sustainable entrepreneurship support platform that brings together diverse entrepreneurial experts to power businesses to scale.
As far as Odera’s banking career goes, he had quite a stint at Stanbic Bank Africa, having held country leadership positions including Deputy Managing Director (Deputy MD) for Tanzania, and Country Chief Executive of four of Stanbic’s regional markets, namely Malawi, Uganda, South Sudan and most recently, Kenya. Before joining Stanbic, he was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Citibank in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Today, Odera is the Managing Partner of Marr Consult, a company that offers specialist advisory services to the health, energy, fintech and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors in East Africa. He has also been an Executive Partner at Titans D’Afrique, a consortium of experienced regional leaders who volunteer their skills to empower and upskill Africa’s emerging leaders.
Philip holds a Bachelor of Economics (BEcon) degree from St. Lawrence University, USA and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Suffolk University in Boston, USA. He has attended several leadership courses from globally accredited academic institutions including Harvard, Duke and Cambridge Universities, as well as London Business School (LBS).