Success story of man who changed face of banking in Kenya


The man who changed the face of banking and recruited millions of peasants into the industry, James Mwangi was an early riser in school who never showed any ambitions beyond passing his high school exams.

A former managing trustee at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) who was the Mwangi’s roommate at Kagumo High School told The Standard there were no hints of Mwangi’s potential back then.

“He would wake up very early in the morning and sit on the bed as he brushed his shoes. He was never loud, but we noticed the meticulous manner in which he did his stuff. He transferred this character to the bank and made it what it is today,” said the former NSSF boss who requested not to be named.

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When Mwangi joined Equity in 1993, it was a struggling building society, it had already been declared technically insolvent. It was making losses in excess of Sh5 million every year and was facing a cumulative loss of Sh33 million. The staff had not been paid salaries and morale was low.

But change was not only happening at the building society. The entire banking industry, which was then dominated by multi-nationals, was undergoing a

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