It started with a bank in bankruptcy

Dr. Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director of Kenya's Equity Bank Limited, was named the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2012, on 9 June at a gala awards ceremony held in Monte Carlo and webcast live around the world.

Equity Bank is the largest bank by customer base in East and Central Africa and the largest African majority-owned company in the region. The bank has more than 7 million accounts, representing over half of all bank accounts in Kenya. It also has operations in Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Tanzania.

"I'm honored to accept this award on behalf of the people and customers of Equity Bank," Dr. Mwangi said. "This is a global recognition for Africans who are embracing the power of entrepreneurship to change the economic and social state of Africa."

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Transforming lives

Dr. Mwangi played a key role in transforming Equity Bank from a failing micro-finance institution to a publicly listed commercial bank. He has also driven the bank's goal to transform the lives of people socially and economically by giving them access to modern, inclusive financial services.

He spearheaded the bank’s investment in an IT platform that can accommodate 35 million accounts, as well as a level-four data center — the only one of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa — which gave Equity Bank the lead in creating synergy between banking and mobile phones.

Additionally, through strategic capitalization, Equity Bank attracted the single largest capital injection in East and Central African history: $180 million from Helios EB.

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For entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs

An independent judging panel comprised of distinguished former Entrepreneur Of The Year winners from around the globe selected Dr. Mwangi from among finalists from 51 countries, each of whom had already been named an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year in their home country.

"Not only has James really transformed people"s lives across Africa by offering them access to funding that they have never had before, Equity Bank continues to grow quickly through a strong financial performance," said Ruben Vardanian, President, Troika Dialog, of Russia, who chaired the judging panel.

"James has been pivotal in the transformation of Equity Bank into one of Africa's brightest business success stories," said Maria Pinelli, EY's Global Vice Chair, Growth Markets. "He is truly an inspirational story of entrepreneurial spirit with an innovative business model that has the potential to be replicated globally."