Top 25 CEOs setting the business agenda in 2021

From a list of 100 media submissions, it has not been easy ending with only 25 each celebrating each year this magazine has in published. It has been hard work of reading and researching and occasional getting permission from some of you or counter checking some facts to try to ensure accuracy.

Dr Jeremy Awori


Jeremy Awori ended the year 2020 on a roll for two main reasons: first is a successful brand change from Barclays to ABSA Bank Plc complete with a flawless Management Information System (MIS) operation from across three continents. Second, an uninterrupted customer centric service that did not inconvenience customers, keeping all branches open while placing a secure Co-Covid-19 protocol systems and structures that conforms and supersedes the set WHO standards.

2021 starts on yet a favourable industry footing. In a well authored article in the Business Daily newspaper of November 30th 2020, Jeremy posits that businesses must reconnect company successes with social progress, ‘’if we have to attain the strategic UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). This, Jeremy adds, ‘’should be additional to the corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes which, historically, have mostly taken the form of philanthropic engagements.’’

According to Jeremy, ‘’creating business value in a way that also creates value for both society and the environment approach transforms CSR, as we currently know it, and underpins the CSR concept in order to achieve enhanced sustainability and impact, when the concept of value creation is part of the company core business.’’. This is industry leadership from the front.

In addition, ‘’by resolving deep-rooted societal, economic and environment challenges in a country, businesses can make money,’’ Jeremy posits in the article. He adds that this is the only approach for banks to consider today, if businesses are to guarantee and boost food production and access to water, in order to avoid compounded adverse impact on lives and livelihoods especially among the most vulnerable citizens.

According to the article, ABSA Bank Kenya PLC in 2020 embarked on a journey to embed sustainability as a strategic business principle, with the objective of creating incremental shared value for all the stakeholders both in the way the bank carries out business but also in the services and products the premier bank offers.

ABSA Bank Kenya PLC in 2020 embarked on a journey to embed sustainability as a strategic business principle, with the objective of creating incremental shared value for all the stakeholders both in the way the bank carries out business but also in the services and products the premier bank offers.

One of the several milestones marked by the bank, is the development of a sustainability strategy and implementation framework that started in 2019, when ABSA Bank Kenya became one of the first signatories of the principles for responsible banking, committing to strategically align the Kenya business with the sustainable development goals and the Paris agreement on climate change, the bank being a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact.

Absa Kenya MD Jeremy Awori and PS Chris K Kiptoo pose for a photo during the launch of Sustainability commitments that will guide our business strategy in the coming years. on October30, 2020. #AbsaSustainabilityCommitment

On product innovation and improvement, for instance, Absa Bank Kenya has enhanced its vehicle asset financing proposition by extending the repayment period to six years or 72 months, the longest tenor in the vehicle asset financing industry.

The deal comes with a Sh300, 000 vehicle maintenance limit on credit cards for customers who take up the offer to support them maintain their vehicles, including managing their fuel purchases. This is in addition to the 95% funding offer for customers purchasing new vehicles of their choice, both in the commercial and passenger services categories.

Under this deal, the bank has partnered with the four major distributors in East Africa, namely Toyota Kenya, Isuzu East Africa, CFAO DT Dobie, and Simba Corporation.

On this partnership, the bank reaffirmed its commitment to providing tailor-made, value-adding solutions to its customers at affordable interest rates and sufficient repayment periods. “We are in an unprecedented economic time and well apprised of the ravaging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on all sectors, particularly SME sector. This partnership with the four-vehicle dealers acknowledges this, hence the packaging of what we consider as an affordable, accommodative and flexible financing deal,” states the bank in a statement released during the launch.

Under the deal, SMEs, salaried customers, and those in the expansive commercial business space, including schools, colleges, churches, and others will have access to a holistic proposition which also includes insurance and insurance premium financing, all under one roof. The financing deal is open to both Absa Bank customers and potential customers who would wish to purchase vehicles and are looking to be financed by a financial institution.

With this these and many more, Jeremy Awori starts 2021 on the steering wheel of business leadership in Kenya, with his bank taking a bold step that will inspire business innovation on social and environmental challenges in line with ABSA Bank Kenya’s commitment to be a more active force for good in the communities where the operates.

Absa Kenya MD, Jeremy Awori and his sons cheer after supporting the families in Kayole, Kangemi, Kawangware Waithaka and Gathondeki who needed some support on June 21, 2020

Jeremy Awori transitioned to Absa as the Managing Director and Chief Executive officer from Barclays Bank Kenya where he held the same position, having joined Barclays in February 2013.

Prior to this, Jeremy was the Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) in Tanzania from December 2008 to January 2013, having risen from December 2008 to January 2013, from the position of Regional Sales Director, Middle East, South Asia and Africa for Standard Chartered Bank, a position he held from 2006 to December 2008. During this time, Jeremy was Board Director of SCB Kenya, then the largest listed company in the Nairobi Stock Exchange, where he was the youngest Board Director in the history of SCB.

Jeremy was in 2020 appointed by the President to sit on the Covid-19 Funding Board, in addition to his directorship at Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), an umbrella business lobby group on economic empowerment.

In banking industry leadership, Jeremy has been the chairman of Kenya Bankers Association between June 2013 and July 2014, the industry banking body responsible for managing the banking agenda and liaising with key stakeholders including the government and key consumer institutions.

Absa Kenya MD Jeremy Awori pose for a photo when Barclays Bank began trading as Absa Bank Kenya following official name change.

Jeremy holds a BSc Degree in Pharmacy from the University of Manchester in the UK and an MBA degree in Finance and International Business from McGill University in Canada.

In 2020, all eyes were fixed on Jeremy as Barclays Bank Kenya transitioned fully to Absa Bank Kenya PLC, after a presence of over 100 years as the premier bank in the country. During the transition, Jeremy has remained on course, having led the bank in registering its fastest growth in a decade year-on-year, with a strong revenue growth buttressed by well-contained cost base, increased operating profit. The successful rebranding from a global icon to a continental banking brand, ABSA, is no mean a feat.


Life Time Award- Transition Leadership from Barclays Kenya to Absa Bank Kenya PLC.

Industry Leadership- KEPSA and KBA.

Brand Equity- Maintaining Barclays Kenya as the premier bank for seven years.

Change Management

Corporate Governance-Board Composition and Diversity

Ambassador for Business value creation concept-Business Daily November 19 article

National leadership through membership of the COVID-19 Funding Board


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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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