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Diaspora-backed MFI hires ex-Equity manager as its head

Banking hall of the Small and Micro Enterprise Programme, a microfinance based in Nairobi. There are nine MFIs in Kenya. PHOTO | FILE
Banking hall of the Small and Micro Enterprise Programme, a microfinance based in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE 

A microfinance institution (MFI) backed by a group of Kenyans living in the US has engaged a former Equity Bank manager as chief executive and an ex-international banker as her deputy.

Choice Microfinance Bank, currently in formation, has appointed Lydiah Maingi Maina as CEO and a former executive at JP Morgan Chase Stanley Kasyoka as her deputy ahead of the micro lender’s launch set for early next year.

Ms Maina previously worked at Equity Bank for four years as a project assistant and micro credit officer where she was in charge of lending to chamas (investment clubs) mostly for women and youth groups.

Prior to joining Choice, Ms Maina worked for two years as a branch manager at Vision Fund, a rural-focused micro-financier owned by World Vision, a US-based evangelical Christian humanitarian organisation.

Mr Kasyoka, who will serve as deputy CEO, worked as a senior business analyst at JP Morgan Chase and Bear Sterns Investment Bank, which collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis.

“Lydiah Maina is a career banker and a microfinance professional with 11 years’ experience in micro finance business,” said Bernard Kamiri, chairman of the microfinancier.

“Stanley brings great wealth of experience in investment banking, micro-mortgages and credit risk analysis.”

Mr Kamiri is a Kenyan businessman based in Massachusetts where he runs Double Xpress, a money transfer firm, and was formerly a diaspora banking agent for Co-operative Bank.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in October issued Choice Microfinance Bank a conditional approval to conduct business.

Choice is currently racing to comply with various pre-licensing requirements before being granted a licence to operate as a community microfinance bank.

Mr Kamiri said Choice would have a capital base of Sh100 million raised from members, mostly Kenyans in the diaspora.

CBK licensing guidelines set the core capital for a community microfinance bank at Sh20 million while the requirement for national micro lenders is Sh60 million. There are nine microfinance banks in Kenya with a total loan book of Sh27.4 billion as at December 2013.

There are seven nationwide deposit-taking MFB including Faulu, Kenya Women Finance Trust, SMEP, Remu, Rafiki, Century and Sumac as well as two  community-based DTMs which are Uwezo and U&I.

Choice has also appointed property developer Robert Mungai Mburu as a director in its five-member board.

Mr Mburu is the chairman of Cretum Properties and the proprietor of the Sh22.7 billion Isinya Green City, a mixed-use development in Kajiado County.

“He is a successful businessman in the real estate industry and offers extensive leadership drawn from his experience in business and audit to the microfinance bank,” said Mr Kamiri.

The other directors are businessman Simon Gachunia who is an executive director.

Ms Maina holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Moi University and a diploma in microfinance from Strathmore University.

Mr Kasyoka attained his undergraduate degree in business administration from the United States International University-Africa and a Master’s in economics from the City University of New York.

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