“Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Foundation has remained a committed partner in support of community investments where the bank operates, in education, environment, enterprise development, health and humanitarian support”, said the bank’s CEO, Dr Martin Oduor-Otieno.
Dr Otieno who was speaking during the celebration of the inaugural class of the Acumen Fund East Africa Fellows program said they were out to “expose them to new ideas, provide access to opportunities and platforms that can catapult their social initiatives to new heights.” He urged them to note that they are the representatives of the next generation of change makers in East Africa.
“I shall be honoured if, after this program, I hear that a student in rural Rwanda has joined the university because he was able to study some extra hours due to low cost lantern, or that a village in Kenya has reaped the dividends of the governments devolved funds due to vigilance that ensured every shilling was invested in the right place,” the CEO added.
KCB and the Acumen fund opened doors to each other in 2010 at the launch of the Friends of the KCB Foundation on the premise that “such partnerships have been able to touch the lives of thousands of young people across the world”.
Dr Otieno articulated that when the partnership began they didn’t have any idea that it was going to be one of significant milestones in the relationship between the two institutions. Thus he said: “The 20 fellows we present today were selected from a pool of 538 applicants and I am honored to be here with such inspiring, like-minded, young people who seek to make a difference in their community.”
The CEO said the program provides a platform to demonstrate that good leadership can accelerate development in all sectors. “As a Foundation we have traditionally given grants to organizations; however along the way we have realized that a significant number of organizations do not achieve their full potential due to gaps in leadership.”
He further pointed out that failed development projects are often highlighted in the media, with poor leadership and unethical practices cited as the cause of failure. “It is a shame that with all the billions of shillings pumped into community projects by the government and other donors, the community is yet to reap commensurate benefits,” he said regretfully.
“Leadership today is considered one of the scarce resources available and this program is designed to ensure that at least 20 of East Africa’s own will start their journey to being the leaders of tomorrow,” the CEO said, adding that the journey is not short and requires humility, integrity and focus.
He counselled the beneficiaries to “spend time to search inwardly for areas of improvement, be dedicated, communicate intentions clearly, have the right people around you, accept responsibility and make discipline a part of your lifestyle. This program is the first of its kind in this part of the world to give emerging leaders an environment where such attributes can be enhanced and honed for the challenges of tomorrow.”
The program is aimed at restoring leadership – through young people who understand that times have changed and that profit is no longer the only indicator of organizational success and the process and the difference one makes in the community is equally important.
“I will say that at KCB we abide by this mantra and that is why we are aggressively driving the sustainability agenda and are among the few Kenyan companies that publish a sustainability report, demonstrating our role in the economy, the community and in the environment,” the CEO said. He was accompanied by Jacqueline Novogratz, the CEO of the Acumen Fund as well as Biju Mohandas and Suraj Sudhakar, East Africa Fellows Managers.