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Retiring Equity Bank chairman takes his successor to where it all began

Outgoing Equity Bank chairman Peter Munga with the incoming chairperson Mr David Ansell at Kangema where Equity Bank started. PHOTO | NDUNGU GACHANE | NMG
Outgoing Equity Bank chairman Peter Munga with the incoming chairperson Mr David Ansell at Kangema where Equity Bank started. PHOTO | NDUNGU GACHANE | NMG 

Outgoing Equity Bank #ticker:EQTY chairman Peter Munga has taken his successor David Ansell on a tour of the lender’s first branch opened in Muranga in 1984.

Mr Munga is handing over to Mr Ansell, an American national, after overseeing the lender for nearly 35 years.  

The two on Wednesday toured a small room in Kangema town, Murang’a County, where the bank was started.

Mr Ansell was also shown an old office that housed the then Equity Building Cooperative Society which Mr Munga started with only Sh5,000 and five staff back in 1984.

The first branch had a small board room that served as an office for the chairman and the institution’s manager.

The small room in Kangema is preserved to serve as a museum.

“We started from nowhere and that’s why I have decided to take the new chairman to where began to understand the bank’s philosophy better,” he said.

The renowned entrepreneur then took Mr Ansell on a tour of Equity Bank Murarandia branch in Kiharu which was the lender’s second outlet and Equity Bank Kiriaini which was third in line.

He recalled that the Kiriaini branch was opened in a small kiosk that today serves as a shop in Kiriaini town. Both visited the shop that now stocks electronics.

Mr Munga addressed Kangema residents outside the first branch where he introduced the new chairman designate.

The crowd demanded an explanation why he had to retire and leave the bank “in the hands of a foreigner.”

Equity Bank chairman Peter Munga

Outgoing Equity Bank chairman Peter Munga (left) has announced that he has started the process of handing over the chairmanship after 35 years of service at the bank. PHOTO | NDUNGU GACHANE | NMG

Difficult time

The chairman had a difficult time convincing the residents that time had come for him to retire but told them Mr Ansell would work under his close mentorship.

The bank founder narrated how the difficulty his late mother Beth Nyambura had in saving money fired him up to open his own bank.

Big banks at the time demanded that customers maintain a balance of Sh10,000 to run a bank account.

At 20, he opened a Sacco which he named Equity Building and Housing Cooperative Society.

“Due to the confidence that the villages had in me, they entrusted me with their tea bonus payments and supported the cooperative in a big way. In fact, we were overwhelmed by the numbers we got at Kangema.” Mr Munga recalled.

He said his mother pressed him to reach out to more tea farmers in Murang’a and outside the county.

Equity Bank currently has 294 branches with a customer base of 12.5 million.

It has spread its wings to six countries; Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan and DRC.

Mr Munga says he retires a happy man having achieved his childhood dream. His wish now is to see the bank rise to the next level and spread all over Africa and beyond.

He expects the new chairman to also list Equity Bank on the London and New York stock exchanges.

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