The excitement about the launch of the CFO East Africa community is palpable.
Finance executives across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda are enthusiastically supporting the launch of the CFO East Africa community, an organisation that brings the CFOs together to share knowledge, build their networks and advance their careers.
“This platform will open us up to unlock the next level of growth,” says Safaricom CFO Dilip Pal. Uganda Breweries CFO Eunice Waweru lauds the launch as a “fantastic idea” and Telkom Kenya CFO Allan Wainaina is looking forward to benefiting from exchanging ideas with other finance executives and Stanbic Kenya CFO Dennis Musau says the community will help CFOs open up.
CFO East Africa connects finance executives through down-to-earth engagement, world-class events and engaging original content. Many CFOs have already committed to joining the official launch event on 26 October 2023 in Nairobi, by which time the first edition of CFO East Africa Magazine will be available. A full calendar of events is slated for 2024.
“I spent a lot of time talking to CFOs in East Africa in the last few months and the support for the community has been overwhelming,” says KC Rottok Chesaina, CFO East Africa ambassador. “Finance execs across the region are very keen to get to know each other better, learn from each other and - just importantly - find some support among peers who face the same pressures and conundrums.”
As a sister organisation of CFO South Africa, a community that has been growing from strength to strength over the past 12 years, CFO East Africa benefits from 12 years of experience and lessons learnt. The organisation is firmly rooted in East Africa though, based out of Nairobi with activities planned across the region.
“The need for a strong community of finance leaders has been apparent for a while now and I am super excited about the tremendous support from CFOs we have received,” says KC. “Through everything we do, we aim to positively influence individuals’ lives and careers, inspire organisations and contribute to a better future for Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.”
The CFO East Africa community is supported by partner organisations that share this vision. They benefit from the unique opportunity to build meaningful relationships with decision makers on a neutral platform.
Group CFO Risper Genga of East African Breweries (EABL) say she cannot wait for the community to start coming together:
“I think it is a great idea, which will give CFOs the sense that they are not the only ones dealing with the issues that they are facing. It is always great to get together with peers from different industries. Such a forum will enable conversations that we are currently having in a fragmented manner. It will enable us to share experiences from other markets, for instance the things that Kenya and neighbouring countries are dealing with at the moment such as inflation, liquidity challenges and currency devaluation. Another benefit of a CFO community is that it can be a place to identify talent.”
KCB Bank Group CFO Lawrence Kimathi has been waiting for this day:
"The idea of a CFO community in East Africa is one whose time has finally come. I had tried to bring together the CFOs in the banking sector and the broader financial services industry and although many were interested, we did not manage to organise an event. It would be good to have a secretariat that is dedicated to organising events for CFOs. The idea makes sense because the professional bodies have not worked very well in bringing together like-minded CFOs."
Telkom’s Allan Wainaina agrees:
“The idea of starting a CFO East Africa platform is a good one. We only have an occasional breakfast organized by ICPAK (Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya) and I think having more interactions would be of benefit for CFOs to share amongst them the different struggles they face instead of suffering in silence. We could also benefit from other people’s ideas and strengthen the finance landscape in corporate Kenya as a result.”
Internationally renowned CFO Dilip Pal from Safaricom sees great things ahead:
“I have seen CFO communities established in India, Bangladesh and Thailand. It was a surprise to me that Kenya did not have one. I think there is definitely a need for a community which can be used to engage with business and the community and host various events with relevant speakers. It will also help in highlighting the role that CFOs play in nation building and to enable us to discuss our challenges. The platform will open us up to unlock the next level of growth.”
Uganda Breweries CFO Eunice Waweru adds:
“I think it is a fantastic idea, because in East Africa we do not have much collaboration. I sense that there is a hunger to exchange ideas at a corporate leadership level. I always think it is better to approach things as a group rather than as an individual. So the community is a welcome idea.”
Nation Media Group CFO Richard Tobiko is also on board:
“I think it is a good idea and I would be keen to explore partnership opportunities with the Nation Media Group. I don’t think CFOs get sufficient recognition, we do not have an awards ceremony yet…”
Sundararaman Pattabiraman, Global CFO of Wasoko is also a fan:
“This CFO community will be good to bring minds together to provide inspiration across industries on common issues such as raising capital, taxation, accounting interpretations and such. It would be good to have an East African community as this will be a sizable platform that engages top CFOs with thinking that goes beyond that of a financial controller.”