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How did Equity Group Holdings become one of the most valuable financial corporations in Africa?

Equity Group Holdings Limited, commonly known as Equity Bank, is a financial services company based in Kenya. It is one of the largest banks in East Africa and provides a range of banking and financial services to individuals, businesses, and institutions. The company has subsidiaries in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia. It is the largest financial corporation in East and Central Africa. As of August 2021, the company had assets exceeding $10.1 billion, 14 million customers, and $7.61 billions in deposits. The corporation was founded in 1984 by Peter Munga, a Kenyan business magnate with a net worth exceeding $280 million, who recently retired. Since 2014, the corporation has been managed by James Mwangi, CEO, managing director, who also has a 4.54% stake in the company and a $180 million net worth.

Equity Group Holdings offers various banking products and services, including savings and current accounts, loans and credit facilities, mobile and internet banking, money transfer services, insurance, investment management, and corporate banking. The bank has also been at the forefront of leveraging technology to provide innovative financial solutions, particularly through its mobile banking platform, Equitel. Equity Bank was originally a provider of mortgage financing for customers in the low income population. Also, due to its rural banking orientation, promotion of agribusiness is a significant and strategic intervention by the bank. By September 2015, Equity Bank had more than 9.2 million customers. The Banker listed Equity Bank among the Top 1,000 Banks in the World with the highest return on assets in the African continent, generating a rate of 6.84 % on assets deployed.

Prior to November 2014, Equity Bank was both a licensed bank and a holding company for its subsidiaries. On 31 October 2014, Equity Bank Group announced its intention to incorporate a new wholly owned subsidiary, Equity Bank Kenya Limited, to which it would transfer its Kenyan banking business, assets and liabilities. The rationale for the re-organization is that by converting Equity Bank into a non-trading holding company that owns both banking and non-banking subsidiary companies and provides strategic, brand, risk and talent management to its subsidiaries, the Group will be better placed to invest and to develop the existing and new businesses as part of its third phase of growth and transformation. These resolutions were all adopted during an extraordinary shareholders general meeting held on 24 November 2014 leading to the formation of Equity Bank Kenya Limited.

In September 2019, Equity Bank Group began talks to acquire a controlling stake in Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC), the second-largest commercial bank in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If and when the transaction is concluded, the new acquisition is expected to be merged with the existing Equity Bank Congo. In August 2020, Equity Group Holdings paid US$95 million (approx. KES:10.2 billion), for a 66.5% ownership in BCDC. Once the regulatory approvals are obtained, BCDC will be integrated into Equity Bank Congo.

Equity Bank has received recognition for its inclusive banking model, which aims to provide financial services to previously underserved segments of the population, such as small-scale entrepreneurs and low-income individuals. The bank's commitment to financial inclusion has earned it a reputation as a socially responsible institution. In addition to its core banking operations, Equity Group Holdings is involved in various subsidiary businesses, such as Equity Investment Bank, Equity Insurance Agency, Equity Bank Congo, and Equity Bank Rwanda. The company is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange and the Uganda Securities Exchange.


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