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Teacher to Top Banker: Joshua Nyamweya Oigara.

In late 2012, at the age of 37, Joshua Oigara became the youngest Chief Executive Officer of a publicly traded bank at the National Securities Exchange, and largest bank in Kenya by total assets.

The news sent reverberations not just in the financial sector, but the entire corporate landscape. He was stepping into perhaps the largest shoes in corporate Kenya at the time. His predecessor, Martin Oduor-Otieno, PCC , was the face of Kenyan banking, older and experienced, and part of the Kenyan Dream Team that President Moi had commissioned in the late 1990s to turn the dwindling economic fortunes of the country around.

And now, the sherif in town was Joshua Oigara who people could not pick from a crowd of three, given the task of steering Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) into newer heights.Oigara had only made a dramatic entry into the banking industry the previous year.

Oigara’s foray into banking began a year earlier when KCB sought a successor for Oduor. Headhunting efforts led them to Bamburi Cement, where Oigara served as Finance Director. A competitive battle ensued, culminating in Oigara’s strategic appointment to a similar position at KCB in November 2011. The unexpected move set the stage for his rapid ascent within the banking industry, ultimately culminating in his appointment as CEO in November 2012.

At the helm of KCB Bank Group, Oigara orchestrated a remarkable transformation, guiding the bank through a period of unprecedented growth. Overseeing operations in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan, he steered the bank to double-digit profit growth and tripled its asset value from Sh 390 billion in 2012 to Sh 1.22 trillion. The net profit skyrocketed from Sh 14.3 billion in 2013 to Sh 34.26 billion in 2021. Such accomplishments solidified Oigara’s position as one of Kenya’s top-paid executives.

During his tenure as the CEO of KCB bank, Joshua Oigara made significant strides, introducing innovations that reshaped the banking scene. Among the notable achievements were the launch of “M-benki,” the implementation of KCB Mobi-loan, and the enhancement of the mobile app with expanded features.

Beyond financial success, Oigara received international recognition, with the Financial Times acknowledging him as one of the “25 Africans to watch in the coming years.” His leadership acumen was further affirmed by his reelection as Chairman of the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) for a second term in 2019-2020 after first being elected in 2018.

This man Joshua.

Oigara was born in Borabu Settlement Scheme, Nyamira County. Both his parents were schoolteachers and farmers who engaged in diverse agricultural activities. The family, driven by strong Adventist convictions, prioritized education with meticulous emphasis. This supportive environment facilitated Oigara and his siblings to focus on their school work. Presently, among his siblings, two are professors and two are doctors. It is because of this that Joshua Oigara believes in the transformative power of education to significantly impact the future of a country.

Despite owning a farm, his father consistently stressed that the primary inheritance for Oigara, as a young individual, was education. This made Oigara aspire to surpass his father’s achievements, whose highest academic achievement was a diploma.

Career Path.

As the lastborn in his family, Oigara’s career choices were influenced by a desire to stay close to home and engage in business ventures. Recognizing the potential for investment and business growth in his immediate surroundings, he strategically aligned his career path to maintain proximity to his family.

Motivated by his father’s belief that business was key to shaping his future, Oigara faced the challenge of selecting a specific business path. His father emphasized excelling in mathematics and sciences, recognizing their significance in various professional fields, particularly in business.

After completing high school, Joshua Oigara pursued a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Accounting at the University of Nairobi. Seeking further expertise, he enrolled in a certification program at Strathmore University School of Accountancy, graduating from both institutions in 1997. Subsequently, he earned an MBA from Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia. Unsatisfied, Oigara attended postgraduate management courses globally, including notable institutions such as INSEAD in Paris, Fuqua School of Business in Durham, IMD Business School in Lausanne, and the London Business School. He also holds a CPA-K qualification.

Climbing up the ladder.

Oigara started off humbly, at first teaching mathematics at a high school, before moving to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where he spent four years. He then joined Bidco Africa in 2002, subsequently transitioning to Bamburi Cement, where he held roles such as Group Finance Director and Chief Financial Officer. In 2011, he moved to KCB, initially as Group Chief Financial Officer before swiftly ascending to Group CEO and Managing Director within a year.

Bringing Purpose in Business.

In an interview with Chris Anderson, the head of TED in 2017, Oigara said,

“For us it is very interesting that we have been in the market for 120 years (as per 2017). We started with building the railways which was the first thing to do. The challenge is, as business leaders we always have a centric focus on the short term and we forget about the stakeholders, the communities, and the people we work with who are basically the reason why the business is running.”

Oigara highlighted the significance of partnerships with Acumen fellows, a group engaged in a robust leadership program addressing poverty-related challenges. Emphasizing the transformative potential of collaborations, he cites a specific instance— their close partnership with M-PESA to develop a mobile algorithm facilitating credit access for entrepreneurs. This initiative played a pivotal role in the organization’s shift towards sustainable solutions. Oigara asserts that partnerships are essential for organizational growth, bringing synergy and energy to create substantial alternatives for success.

In the past, Oigara and his business partner, the late Bob Collymore took the bold step of revealing their salary and net assets, stirring significant media controversy. Oigara, during an interview, framed this decision as an act of moral courage—an intentional choice to pursue a greater good beyond individual considerations, even if it led to personal consequences on one’s standing in both personal and societal spheres.

Their courageous move prompted Oigara and Collymore to develop laws inspired by the British Banjee Bribery Law and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). These laws were later implemented as regulatory measures, specifically targeting corruption and bribery within the private sector.


In November 2022, Oigara assumed the role of CEO at Stanbic Bank Kenya and South Sudan. In his short stint at Stanbic, where the bank’s profits grew by 34 percent in the first nine months.

In an interview with Business Daily, he characterizes his leadership journey as an ongoing effort to propel forward. From the interview, he underscores the importance of persistence, commitment to goals, and avoiding complacency. Oigara envisions a bank that delivers top-notch services, fosters a conducive working environment, and becomes a brand powerhouse.

His leadership philosophy centers on making a meaningful impact, leaving a lasting legacy, and empowering others. Oigara believes that leadership transcends sectors, focusing on lofty aspirations for the team and providing resources for ambitious goals. He emphasizes that leadership is a deliberate framework, prioritizing meaningful impact over personal gains. While he may not fulfill all the bank’s dreams personally, his goal is to leave the institution and its team well-positioned for continued success.

The boys club.

Oigara considers himself fortunate to have crossed paths with individuals who share similar values, such as the late Bob Collymore, whom he describes as a source of inspiration. Oigara and Bob first crossed paths when he became the youngest CEO of KCB in 2012, and this caught the attention of the Collymore. Their initial connection centred on the shared challenges of assuming leadership roles amidst high expectations from the Kenyan public.

Since that pivotal encounter, Oigara became a steadfast member of Collymore’s close-knit circle, colloquially known as “Collymore’s Boys’ Club.” This exclusive group includes Bharat Thakrar, Lamin Manjang, Jeff Koinange, Patrick Quarcoo, Alykhan Satchu, Peter Kenneth, and Nic Hailey.

Oigara also credits his achievements in business to the network of friends he has cultivated over time. According to him, this network provides a business with the vitality, protection, and defense necessary for continuous progress.

Lessons and Legacy.

Oigara’s leadership journey imparts valuable lessons: valuing diverse perspectives, embracing new ideas, recognizing the opportunities that come from consistently doing the right thing, and acknowledging the transformative potential in courage and mistakes as pathways to greatness and new opportunities.

In a 2015 ‘Person of Interest’ interview on KTN, Joshua Oigara conveyed his passion for business and its profound impact on lives. This is as a conduit to connect people’s aspirations and empower them to dream beyond the ordinary, encouraging them to achieve the extraordinary. He outlined his dedication to supporting individuals in assessing optimal business investments and committed to facilitating the realization of their dreams.

Inspired by his father’s dedication to education, Oigara strives to make a lasting impact. In the mid-1970s, unlike many parents, his father prioritized and invested all available resources in ensuring his children received an education. This commitment shaped Oigara’s foundational philosophy, emphasizing the transformative power of education and the importance of positive change.

Oigara’s vision extends beyond personal success, challenging everyone to contribute to building inclusive growth and prosperity for all. By connecting each individual to this vision, he seeks to foster transformation and create a positive impact on society, especially in the lives of children and future generations.

𝐷𝑜 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤 𝑎 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑙𝑏𝑙𝑎𝑧𝑒𝑟 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑇𝑒𝑐ℎ 𝐸𝑐𝑜𝑠𝑦𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑚? 𝐷𝑜 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑤𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑠𝑒𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑓𝑒𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑔𝑛𝑖𝑧𝑒𝑑 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑟𝑒𝑚𝑎𝑟𝑘𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑏𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑠? 𝑆ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑜𝑟 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑢𝑠 𝑎𝑡 𝑃𝑅@𝑓𝑖𝑛-𝑡𝑒𝑐ℎ.𝑐𝑜.𝑘𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑙𝑒𝑡 𝑢𝑠 ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑝 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑤𝑐𝑎𝑠𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑.

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