African Women To Watch: Finance (Video)

African Women To Watch: Finance
Women make up more than half of the workforce in financial institutions globally. However, only 19% are in senior positions, a mere 14% hold board seats, and just 2% are CEOs, according to a 2013 study by PwC.


Maria Kiwanuka, Minister of Finance, Uganda

Maria Kiwanuka, Minister of Finance, Uganda

After working for a decade at the World Bank in Washington, DC, and 11 years as a business woman in Uganda, Maria Kiwanuka became Uganda’s second female Minister of Finance in May 2011. She built her reputation in government not as a politician but as a business-savvy leader.

Kiwanuka has been instrumental contributing to Uganda’s success towards achieving one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) “to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger”. The proportion of Ugandans living below the poverty threshold has dropped to under 19% from 58% in the early 90s.

“You have to make sure that having climbed out of poverty, they don’t tip back. That’s why you have to give them opportunities to improve their productivity at the household level, to improve their skills development at the household level, which is a basic unit of economic production,” says Kiwanuka. “So again we go back to putting the roads, putting the power, putting the irrigation, provide the skills training and then they, as individuals and as households, can do the rest,” Kiwanuka adds.

Prior to her leadership appointment at Uganda’s Ministry of Finance, Kiwanuka was the Managing Director of Uganda’s Radio One and Radio Two, in which her family owns majority shareholding. She says her experience in the private sector taught her to grow the purse. “My private sector experience has been pretty useful to me coming into government because you come in with the knowledge and experience that you have to pay the rent, you have to make ends meet,” she says. “Government is not the be-all and end-all. It is in a supportive role and, of course, it plays a regulatory function as well. And that is something you can really resonate with, if you’ve been in the private sector,” says Kiwanuka.

Maria Kiwanuka launched Radio One in 2000 when Uganda’s airwaves were dominated by three stations all headed-up by men. Until her nomination as minister, this wife and mother of two was also a Board Member at the Uganda Development Bank, a non-Executive Director at Stanbic Bank, and a Member of Uganda’s Presidential Economic Commission.

According to Maria Kiwanuka, “Every woman has to listen for that voice inside her, whether to become a career woman or to become a home maker, whether when or if to have children … and then when you are pressing against a glass ceiling, what do you do? You have to look inside yourself.”

Before assuming leadership positions at Radio One and Radio Two, Kiwanuka worked for more than ten years with the World Bank, as an Economist and Financial Analyst for the East Asian and Southern African regions. Specifically, she covered projects in Burma, Malawi, Swaziland, and Uganda.

Maria Kiwanuka attended Gayaza High School, a prestigious all-girls boarding school, located about 26 kilometres (16 miles), by road, northeast of Kampala, Uganda, graduating in 1973. In 1974, she entered Makerere University, Uganda’s oldest institution of higher education. She graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) degree in 1977. She later pursued further education at the London Business School in the United Kingdom, where she graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.


Sola David-Borha, CEO, Stanbic IBTC Holdings

Sola David-Borha, CEO, Stanbic IBTC Holdings

After spending two decades across various positions within Stanbic IBTC, Sola David-Borha became one of Nigeria‘s highest-paid CEOs when she took the helm of the bank’s holding company, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC (a member of the Standard Bank Group), in May 2011.

“I knew what I didn’t want to do in life. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to do Medicine, though my father wanted me to do it. I stumbled upon Economics and went down that path. When I was studying in Manchester, I did some courses in Banking and Finance which was quite interesting. I wanted to come back to Nigeria. I had no interest in staying on in the UK. When I came back, my sister had a friend who worked in NAL Merchant Bank. That friend happened to be Mr. Atedo Peterside,” recalls David-Borha. Atedo Peterside is the Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC.

“So she arranged an appointment for me to go and talk to him and chat with him, talk about career prospects. I subsequently applied for a job there among other banking institutions I was applying to; and I got a job and started work in the credit and marketing department of NAL Merchant Bank. NAL was the pioneer merchant bank in Nigeria, at the time,” David-Borha recalls.

Sola David-Borha’s long history at Stanbic IBTC began when current Chairman, Atedo Peterside, asked her to join the Investment Banking and Trust Company, as one of its foundation staff in the late 1980s. Atedo Peterside had formed Investment Banking and Trust Company PLC (IBTC) as an investment bank on February 2, 1989.

“In the early years, you had to prove yourself, you had to fight for every kind of business you could get but it was an experience you wouldn’t exchange because you learn many things on that journey,” says David-Borha.

In 2005, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced its re-capitalization program for commercial banks. This meant that all commercial banks had to have a NGN 25 billion minimum capital base. After a series of mergers and acquisitions starting in 2005, including an effective acquisition of IBTC by South Africa’s Standard Bank Group in 2007, the company renamed itself to Stanbic IBTC Holdings in September 2007. Additionally, at the time, South Africa’s Standard Bank was looking to expand its business in Nigeria.

“It was pretty challenging having to go through the different merger transactions and the attendant integration issues,” Sola-David says of the period during which the company went through multiple M&A rounds.

Sola David-Borha says that her quick rise to the top was encouraged early on because IBTC chose to be different. “In IBTC, we actually had women in senior positions, so we were an outlier to the industry,” recalls David-Borha.

According to David-Borha, her biggest achievement was being part of a management team that grew IBTC into one of the leading financial services players in Nigeria.

Prior to becoming CEO of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, David-Borha served as CEO of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC. She was Deputy CEO of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC from March 2008 to April 2011 and also served as Head of Investment Banking Coverage for Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa).

David-Borha currently serves as a Director of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC and Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Limited and is Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Capital Limited, Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers Limited, and Stanbic IBTC Asset Management Limited. She is also a Director of CR Services (Credit Bureau) PLC.

David-Borha holds a BSc (Economics) degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and an MBA from Manchester Business School, United Kingdom. Her executive education experience includes the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme (AMP). She is a Fellow of Nigeria’s Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIBN) and Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. She is also Chairman of the Board of Governors of Redeemers International School.


Souad Benbachir, Board Member and Partner of Morocco’s CFG Group

Souad Benbachir, Board Member and Partner of CFG Group

The economic participation of Arab women is the lowest female participation rate in the world. The United Nations reports that only a third of women, 15 years or older, are active in the economy of the Arab region. This low rate contrasts with the world average female participation rate, which stands at just over half of women.

Morocco is working on improving its female participation rate and the country recently implemented a gender-responsive budget and constitution, that allows women equal social, economic, and political rights.

Souad Benbachir is one of Morocco’s leading business women, pioneering a number of changes in Morocco’s financial sector.

After graduating from France’s ESSEC Business School in 1992, Benbachir joined Goldman Sachs, where she spent 3 years in London. Afterwards, she decided to move back home to Morocco, joining one of the country’s top investment banks, the CFG Group. Benbachir became CEO of CFG Group in 2009, encouraging a new way of doing business that encouraged more women to join the investment banking fraternity.

In 2005, Benbachir received the Al Arch Knight Wissam Merit Distinction award from King Mohammed VI of Morocco, for her contribution to the development of the country. In 2012, she was appointed to the board of the General Confederation of Moroccan Companies.

Souad Benbachir admits that it is challenging, as a woman doing business in the Moroccan business world, to find a balance between family and work.

“I really tried several ways to make work more flexible for women working with me; and we have found that some recipes don’t work for our industry, such as half-time; but there are some others that work, such as working from home,” Benbachir says.

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