Former Ecobank CEO enters African microfinance
Arnold Ekpe, a mainstay of African banking for the past three decades, has been appointed chair of financial inclusion firm Microcred’s supervisory board.
The move is something of a departure for Ekpe. While he has served as the CEO of two full-service pan-African banks – Ecobank and United Bank for Africa – and most recently proved instrumental to the inception of a third, Atlas Mara, Ekpe had never previously worked in microfinance.
In his first interview since the appointment was publicized, Ekpe tells Euromoney that he was eager to enter microfinance. He had been contemplating ways of moving into that area of finance for several years, and eventually set his sights on Microcred, a firm he says he first became aware of during his time at Ecobank, which he headed from 1996 to 2001 and again from 2005 to 2012.
Microcred – founded in 2005 by French entrepreneur Arnaud Ventura, with funding from microfinance backer Positive Planet and other institutional investors – is now active in nine African countries, including Nigeria and Senegal, as well as in China.
It offers financial services to the unbanked and underbanked, focusing primarily on micro, small and medium-sized firms.