Launch of CFO East Africa community a rip-roaring success

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75 CFOs from across East Africa came together at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi for the much-anticipated launch of the CFO East Africa community, where they discussed a new era of finance.

History was made last night as the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi witnessed the biggest gathering of CFOs in East Africa. The excitement for the launch of the community was palpable as 75 CFOs in attendance got to know each other, discussed crucial topics and laid the foundation for the CFO East Africa community.

One of the absolute highlights of the launch event were the brainstorm sessions, where the CFOs set the agenda for the community and identified crucial topics of discussion, like technology, leadership, succession planning and ESG. The conversations were led by Dennis Musau (CFO of Stanbic Kenya and South Sudan), Josephine Njoroge (CFO of DHL Express East Africa), Christine Sesay (CFO of Kepler Rwanda), Yusuf Omari (CFO of ABSA Bank Kenya), Dilip Pal (Group CFO of Safaricom) and Raymund Kahumba (RSK Tanzania).

The event kicked off with a welcome from co-founder and community manager KC Rottok Chesaina, who explained that the power of community building underpins everything CFO East Africa does.

“This is going to be an exclusive community that engages on peer-to-peer level and the CFO is at the heart of our objective, mission and vision.”

CFO East Africa’s core purpose is executive community building through down-to-earth engagement, world-class events and engaging original content on its website and magazine. The first edition of the glossy CFO East Africa magazine was distributed at the event.

Anne Muraya, CEO of Deloitte East Africa, said the CFO East Africa community was a “brilliant” idea long in the making. “We believe that in enabling CFOs, we’re enabling their company, she said. Deloitte threw its weight behind the launch event as a principal sponsor, along with associate sponsors Adili, ALN, Churpy, Milvus and Payspace.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa, a former CFO himself, took to the podium as the night’s keynote speaker to talk about what CEOs expect from CFOs.

He opened his address with a nugget of advice given him when he was starting out as a finance executive in West Africa. “I asked for advice from the Africa head of Diageo at the time and he said ‘do not become a functional head, recruit the best people in these functions’,” he said.

“The role is evolving from a finance role to a strategic one. You have to become a strategic and commercial orchestrator,” he added.

As the unsung heroes of any organisation, Peter went on to reveal that a good CFO allows their CEO to “sleep better”.

“You have to tell the CEO the truth. You probably are one of the only functions that will tell do that! As CEO, I find it is the role I rely on most,” he said, acknowledging Dilip in the audience.

This was followed by a panel discussion with East African Breweries (EABL) CFO Risper Genga Ohaga, BAT East & Southern Africa CFO Philemon Kipkemoi and Nicolas Masaba, the CFO at C-Care Health Uganda.

Referring to CFOs staying in touch with the different aspects of a business, from warehouse to boardroom, Risper said, “I can fully relate to how much more you have to listen to the sound of the river.”

These sessions were aptly summed up by WPP-Scangroup CFO Miriam Kaggwa, who said, “Finally, finally, we are forming a community!”.

It was on that upbeat note that the formal programme ended and East Africa’s leading finance executives took the opportunity to network, catch up with their peers and meet new members of the finance fraternity.

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