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‘The greed that sometimes drives capitalism must be tamed’ – James Mwangi

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Thursday, 29 October 2020 17:31, updated on Sunday, 28 March 2021 21:39

If any banker was going to have an epiphany about capitalism during the pandemic, it was James Mwangi. “The bottom line [...] is no longer a central focus,” he said, during a long video call in late August, in his capacious but empty office in central Nairobi.

Instead, the chief executive of Equity Bank has realised that the interests of the wealthy must be better aligned with the less well-off to avoid global calamity – in essence, inclusivity is self-interest. It has been a punishing year for Kenya’s biggest bank. “Up to June we are down 24% after tax,” says Mwangi. Waiving the fees to use its mobile platform forfeits $2m per month in revenue.