British firm Wakanda Network acquires majority stake in Kenya’s Choice Microfinance Bank

KENYA – The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has announced the acquisition of 85 percent shareholding of Choice Microfinance Bank Limited (Choice MFB) by Wakanda Network Limited (Wakanda) effective October 22, 2021.

The move follows CBK’s approval on September 21, 2021, under Section 19 (4) of the Microfinance Act of Kenya and approval by the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Planning on October 5, 2021, pursuant to Section 19(3)(b) of the Microfinance Act.

Wakanda was incorporated in the United Kingdom on February 26, 2020, and is wholly owned by Mr. Robin Duan Wei.

Mr. Wei is a Chinese entrepreneur, who also founded Mobvista Inc., a digital advertising company listed at the Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing Limited with a market capitalization of US$ 11.7 billion as of August 31, 2021.

Choice MFB was granted a license by CBK on May 13, 2015, to carry out community microfinance banking business within Kajiado County.

The MFB has its Head Office and one branch both located in Ongata Rongai Town, on the outskirts of the country’s capital city, Nairobi.

The financial institution is categorized as a small microfinance bank with a market share of below 1 percent of the microfinance banking sector as of October 31, 2021.

Since the first MFB became operational in 2009, the Kenyan financial sector landscape has transformed significantly and this has been underpinned by advances in technology, innovation and customer drive towards Anytime Anywhere services.

In response to this changing terrain, the Central Bank of Kenya has been working with MFB’s to transform their operations.

All MFB’s formulated transformation plans in 2020, to adapt to the New Normal.

These plans are anchored on a review of business models to be customer-centric, leveraging on technology and innovation, and strengthening capital and liquidity buffers.

CBK welcomed this transaction that is a critical component of Choice MFB’s transformation plan as it will strengthen Choice MFB and support the stability of the microfinance banking sector.

Choice Microfinance reported a KSh26 million (US$ 230,127) net loss in the financial year ended December 2020.

It had KSh98 million (US$867,403) customer deposits, KSh54 million (US$477,957) assets, KSh6 million (US$53,106) loan book, and KSh5 million (US$ 44,255) borrowings in the review period.

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