KAMPALA: Businessman, tech guru and media mogul, Kin Kariisa has ended his 10 years on the board of Ecobank Uganda, a subsidiary of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), one of Africa’s largest financial brands, leaving behind a well-entrenched bank, with great growth prospects.
Kariisa who joined the bank’s board, in 2012, rising to become Chairman in 2019, was on Thursday, 12th May, together with Mrs Gertrude Lutaaya, another board member for 10 years, hosted by the bank, to a powerful farewell dinner at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel, in honour of their commitment service.
The dinner, which was hosted by Grace Muliisa, the bank’s Managing Director, was among others attended by Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Uganda, Dr. Michael Atingi-Ego as well as other board members and selected bank customers.
Before becoming Chairman in 2019, Kariisa chaired the Governance and Risk Committees, while Mrs Lutaaya, has been the Chairperson of the Audit Committee.
Speaking at the event, Rt. Hon Tayebwa lauded the outgoing board chairman for his dedicated and professional service, saying that “Uganda needs more of this calibre of professionals to transform and improve corporate Governance in Ugandan businesses.”
“I want to take this opportunity to thank Kin Kariisa for his selfless contribution to Ecobank Uganda and the financial sector of Uganda,” he said, adding, that during his tenure, he had contributed to the setting up of appropriate governance and compliance structures, as well as a secure foundation on which the bank is building its growth.
“Everyone will agree that Kin is a generous and good-spirited man, someone whom we all greatly admire and love; a man whose name is almost synonymous with Ecobank because he was there from its infancy. An assiduous and humble man who has worked hard all his life, with many years of distinguished and meritorious service under his belt, he is no doubt one of Ecobank’s highly counted leaders,” he said, adding: “I want to take this opportunity to thank him for his selfless contribution to Ecobank Uganda and the financial sector of Uganda.”
Of Mrs Gertrude Lutaaya, Rt Hon Tayebwa said, she was a dedicated professional who “fights for the integrity of businesses” and was “very keen on the accuracy of Business numbers whilst protecting the interests of the company and those of customers.”
The Deputy Speaker also thanked Ecobank for leveraging financial technologies to champion financial inclusion and creating jobs.
“As a country, Financial Inclusion is an agenda that we hope will see all Ugandans financially empowered to afford a better livelihood in health, education and reducing Uganda’s poverty line. We speak of youth employment, Ecobank through its digitization, bancassurance products and agency banking model, has seen an opened opportunity for new income streams for the youth across the country. Just like it is across the world, the pandemic’s effect was huge, and the recovery from this will take a lot of effort from both the public and private sectors to address. Allow me to thank Ecobank under Kin’s leadership for participating in the economic recovery fund, for managing the risk of transmission which has kept Uganda which is supporting the businessmen and women to revive the businesses as we revive the economy at large,” he added.
Setting a strong foundation for Ecobank
On her part, Ms Grace Muliisa, the Bank’s Managing Director said both Kariisa and Mrs Lutaaya are an integral part of Ecobank’s story in Uganda.
She hailed Kin Kariisa as a hands-on Chairman who did not only effectively provide strategic direction for the Board and Management but was always available to guide and support “me and the team.”
“There is no single moment that we have needed him, and he was not available. He is the kind of Chairman we knew we could invariably turn to for advice and support at critical periods of stress and trials and he never let us down,” she said.
Muliisa added that as the Chair of the Governance and Risk committees in his early years at the Bank, Kariisa spearheaded the process of establishing a policy-based governance system, thereby building and instilling a strong and unique risk culture, albeit balanced.
“This has secured such a strong foundation for the bank,” she said. “Drawing from his strength and experience as a businessman and his appreciation for people in any form of success, he has been actively involved in attracting and retaining talent for the bank. His impact is essentially manifested in the spirit of Eco bankers who have worked with him over the years,” she said, adding: “Our greatest tribute to you will be to continue to drive the disciplines such as innovation, digitization and customer experience that are so close to your heart and to transform and shift the bank in line with the customer trends.”
Muliisa also said that Kariisa’s leadership and passion for technological advancement had influenced the bank’s huge investments in Digital Transformation, which have now started paying off for the bank.
“Ecobank Online, Mobile Application (the leading Application in the market) with a banking assistant – Rafiki for Individual Customers and Omni – Plus and Lite for Corporates and SMEs are leading customer platforms and continue to provide the convenience and affordability for customers. There is no doubt that the bank has grown both in the customer base and balance sheet,” she said.
On Mrs Gertrude, the MD said she has during her tenure, secured the foundation of the Bank. “You have been the pillar and now the springboard against which we stand firm to bounce off to the next level.”
She also praised Mrs Lutaaya, as a “deeply knowledgeable woman of virtue”.
“Mrs Lutaaya is a woman of integrity and one you can count on to hold your hand. She is extremely professional with very high standards. In the last couple of months, I have learnt quite a lot from my conversations and interaction with you and if there is one lesson, I have learnt is; the importance of clarity as a leader but more importantly that you must have standards and standards don’t meet you but you meet them, and that simply means that you should never lower or drop your standards,” Muliisa said.
A well-entrenched bank and brand, poised for growth
Ecobank Uganda has in the past decade risen from a greenfield operation and today has 10 branches and 2 service points mainly in Kampala and Greater Kampala with two upcountry branches in Jinja and Mbarara. However, the bank’s services can be accessed all over the country via the Agent Banking Company platform of 20,000 agents across the country.
The bank also has a vast array of convenient and efficient digital and web banking platforms that among others include Ecobank Online and Mobile Application (internet banking), Ecobank Omni –Plus and Lite (payment solutions for Corporate and Institutional customers; Rapid transfer (for cross border remittances) and Rafiki – a virtual banking assistant.
While Ecobank is part of the larger Group vision of building a world-class pan-African bank that contributes to the economic development and financial integration of Africa through the provision of convenient and reliable financial products and services, in Uganda, the bank aspires to be a bank of choice for the emerging affluent, facilitating trade, investment and driving economic growth.
The bank’s offering is built around three core categories — Consumer Banking, Commercial Banking and Corporate and Investment Banking. Ecobank Uganda offers an extensive array of solutions and services ranging from transactional accounts, electronic banking and money transfer services to term lending and trade solutions, treasury services and financial advisory to domestic, corporate, investment banking and treasury customers including individuals, governments, financial institutions, local and international organizations, small to medium enterprises and micro-businesses.
At end of 2021, the bank had UGX 377.3 billion in customer deposits and UGX504.1 billion in assets.
As part of the larger Ecobank that operates in 35 African countries- the largest banking presence on the continent, Ecobank Uganda, draws its strength from the group’s huge balance sheet, experience and subject matter expertise, which allows for the structuring of facilities of up to USD160 million.