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John Kagema: Former Equity Bank CEO who dreamed big

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John Mwangi Kagema
Former Equity Bank boss John Mwangi Kagema. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The death of former Equity Bank #ticker:EQTY boss John Mwangi Kagema has bared a well-guarded private life of a man who wielded a larger-than-life influence in the financial circles.

Survived by widow Beatrice Wanjiku and four grown-up children, Mr Kagema died on Boxing Day at the Aga Khan University Hospital after what family members described as “a long fight with ill-health”. He was aged 73.

Many successful entrepreneurs who started building their empires in the early ‘90s and happened to pass through his hands say he was always ready to help them access credit.

Nairobi Institute of Business and Technical Studies (NIBS) founder and chief executive Lizzie Wanyoike eulogises the late Kagema as “that one man who I will never forget for his readiness to help me when I was struggling to discover the entrepreneurial world”.

She says the deceased was instrumental in linking her up with Equity Building Society in 1985 and advised her to buy a stake in the institution whose value grew by more than 3,000 times.

This base enabled her to get capital to start NIBS in 1997.

“He is the one who introduced me to Equity network of credit and to-date, in his honour, Equity Bank remains my first bank of choice in terms of financing my investments and divestment, the latest being an ongoing loan of Sh450 million, which I have channelled into building a four-star hotel,” she says.

Kagema’s long-time investment partner, Peter Kahara Munga — who is also the former Equity Bank chairman — says the deceased was a “selfless man whose only dream in life was to see Africans empowered to reap full benefits of freedom”.

He says Kagema did not see the need for political or social revolutions but believed what Africa required was real economic freedom.

“He dreamed of a country that was wealthy to support its other pillars…He was resolute that Kenya needed a strong entrepreneurial culture to create jobs. His most favourite topic was on how to fight poverty by creating earning opportunities, inculcating a culture of saving and investment,” he told the Business Daily.

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Mr Munga says the journey to actualising Equity Bank was no walk in the park.

He says there were times every other mind in it felt it was time to throw in the towel, but the late Kagema always came out strongly saying quitting was a game of cowards.

Mr Munga says the deceased had an intuitional trait that enabled him to read deep into the financial future of the institution and was able to make the right decisions whose outcome awed his friends and foes alike.

Former career civil servant Joseph Kaguthi says he came to know the late Kagema in 1988 when he was busy crafting a break-even strategy for Equity Building Society.

“He came to me seeking government support in tax rebates since at the time the banking sector was undergoing a crisis.

“Our friendship grew and in him, I slowly identified a ruthless negotiator whose focus to realising Equity goals was unwavering. I helped where I could and I am happy for him even in his departure…He was indeed a role model on how to make investment decisions,” he says.

For his help, Mr Kaguthi says, he was among many beneficiaries of credit from Equity Building Society and later Equity Bank due to Kagema’s direct intervention.

The former long-serving civil servant says he learnt from him “never be afraid to dream big even when the odds appear to be against you. This man showed me how”.

He says how Kagema invested was a classic case of economic brilliance, where he first targeted fields of rapid and high returns and in all cases, touched hundreds of people’s lives, helping them create wealth and earn a living.

Equity chief executive James Mwangi remembers how the late Kagema together with Mr Munga recruited him into Equity Building Society in 1993 at a time it had been adjudged by Central Bank of Kenya as a lost cause, with its books of accounts reading Sh33 million loss.

“It is Mr Kagema who told me that he had faith in me to manage the business to a turnaround…With 27 staff and a customer base of 27,000, he insisted that all that was needed was good financial management and implementation of a trajectory formula,” he says.

Mr Mwangi says the deceased monitored every strategy implementation as well as playing the role of a foot soldier to high offices to seek support.

He says Mr Kagema’s dream came true in founding Equity Building Society, which as Equity Bank, got listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange in 2006.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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