Lina Higiro among top 3 seasoned women shaping East Africa’s banking, financial sector

By IGIHE
On 2 April 2021 at 03:35

The CEO of NCBA Bank Rwanda Plc, Lina Higiro has emerged among three women who are steering and shaping the region’s banking and financial services sector.

Higiro, 49, was listed through ‘Angaza Awards’ program recognizing outstanding women in East Africa with expertise creating impact and reshaping banking and financial sector’s management.

The awards are given to outstanding women in honor of their contribution to the banking and financial services sector.

These awards seek among other things, to raise to number of women involved in decision making positions at different financial institutions.

The Angaza Award criteria included an assessment of the applicants’ area of responsibility and contribution to firm performance. Scores were also awarded for achievement that transcended the institution and resulted in the sector and, or community shared value creation.

Professionals in Banking, Capital Markets, Insurance, Investment Banking, Fintech, Fund Management, Microfinance, and Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) were invited to submit their applications or nominations via the Kenyan Wallstreet Award Web page.

Lina Higiro emerged the 3rd among top 10 Women Shaping East Africa’s Banking and Finance Sector following a four-month entry period which saw professionals from Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda submit applications.

Lina serves as Chief Executive Officer of NCBA Bank PLC, one of the fastest growing banks in Rwanda. Higiro was appointed the CEO of NCBA Bank Plc in July 2018. She has over 10 years’ experience in banking covering SME lending, product and business development, strategic planning, marketing and communications and sales.

Previously she was the Chief Operating Officer of AB Bank Rwanda for a period of two years, served five years as the Head of Strategy and Marketing at I&M Bank Rwanda and four years as the Head of SME banking at Fina Bank Rwanda (now GTBank), where she launched the business unit.

Her global experience includes sales, research, and service delivery in various sectors such as real estate, education, NGO’s and energy in Canada and South Africa respectively. She holds an MBA, Bachelor of Commerce and a Diploma in
Communication.

A key approach to her leadership is to foster institutional growth through digital-led efficiency and staff engagement.

In her first years as CEO, Lina consolidated operations, revised the business model and introduced new income and customer segments, resulting in a remarkable growth in operating income by 141 percent, driven by a 163 percent growth of the loan portfolio.

She has delivered five key digitization and efficiency projects, which attracted new customers and grew the bank’s deposit base by 99 percent ($21m to $41m) between 2019 and 2020; and mobile money customer base to represent 80 percent of Rwanda’s active mobile money users.

Lina’s leadership style has resulted in a positive culture within the bank, which is rated the highest in the NCBA group in terms of employee satisfaction.

During her leadership, the bank that was initially called Commercial Bank of Africa, Rwanda (CBA Rwanda) rebranded to NCBA Bank Rwanda Plc following the merger with NIC Group Plc.

Commenting on the merger last year, Lina Higiro, Chief Executive Officer of NCBA Bank Rwanda Plc said the new brand identity will help the bank leverage the strength and value of NCBA Group to reach more customers.

“Our new brand identity sets us apart in a bold and distinctive way that resonates very well with our customers,” she said.

“With the financial strength, expertise, regional connectivity and expanded range of products and services, NCBA Bank Rwanda PLC is set to become a market leader in corporate, retail, asset finance and digital banking within the region,” she added.

Nuru Mugambi, the Chairperson of Angaza Awards Judges Panel & Director Public Affairs Kenya Bankers Association said that these women are quietly, behind the scenes, creating an impact for their organizations and in turn shaping the financial sector.

“They have certainly earned the recognition and we congratulate them for their accomplishments. I often am asked ‘where are the women,’ when it comes to board appointments. Considering the financial sector employs thousands of women, we recognize that this list is not exhaustive, but it is a start in showcasing the many women who are ready and able to serve,” he said.

Top ten list:

1. Mary Wamae, Executive Director, Equity Group Holdings PLC (Kenya)

2.Catherine Karimi, Chief Executive Officer, APA Life Assurance Company (Kenya)

3. Lina Higiro, Chief Executive Officer, NCBA Bank PLC (Rwanda)

4. Elizabeth Wasunna Ochwa, Business Banking Director, Absa Bank PLC (Kenya)

5. Joanita Jaggwe, Country Head of Risk and Compliance, KCB Group PLC (South Sudan)

6. Millicent Omukaga, Technical Assistance Expert on Inclusive Finance, African Development Bank (Kenya)

7. Emmanuella Nzahabonimana, Head of Information Technology, KCB Group PLC (Rwanda)

8. Judith Sidi Odhiambo, Group Head of Corporate Affairs, KCB Group PLC (Kenya)

9. Rosemary Ngure, ESG & Impact Manager, Catalyst Principal Partners (Kenya)

10. Pooja Bhatt, Co-Founder, QuantaRisk and QuantaInsure (Kenya)

Lina Higiro, Chief Executive Officer of NCBA Bank Rwanda Plc.

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