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Equity CEO James Mwangi: The Kenyan billionaire with a big heart

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On Wednesday, Equity Bank chief executive officer Dr James Mwangi left Kenyans in awe after he announced that he was donating up to Sh. 300 million to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. The corona scourge has left the world, and the Kenyan economy on its knees.

This donation by Dr. Mwangi and his family not only surpassed all the donations individually given by corporates in Kenya, but also showed the big heart of the Equity chief. ““It started when my attention was drawn to a group of students and doctors who were raising funds for PPE’s for young post graduate students especially in Kenyatta National and Referral Hospital (KNH),” Dr. Mwangi said. “When I shared the need with my family, a robust discussion revealed the urgency to holistically address the issue as it was not prudent to provide the PPE’s to students without also focusing on the plight of the doctors, nurses, clinical officers, and medical staff.”

The career profile of Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi

But this was not the first time that Dr. Mwangi, who by any ranking is one of Kenya’s top billionaires was giving big. In 2013, Dr. Mwangi made a personal donation of Sh. 100 million to Meru University of Science and Technology. “My hope is that this donation will help evolve and develop a model university,” said Dr. Mwangi. At the time, Dr. Mwangi was the biggest individual sponsor to the African Leadership Academy in South Africa, where he sat in the Global Advisory Council, with total donations grossing Sh. 30 million ($350,000).

He also also sponsoring over 50 students to attend secondary and higher education. For example, Dr. Mwangi adopted Evans, while he was a student at Starehe School and supported him to study IT at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University. Evans, now aged 33, works with global financial firm Credit Suisse in New York.

On top of these acts of philanthropy, Dr. Mwangi heads the bank that learns the largest education sponsorpship program in the history of Kenya: Wings To Fly. The Wings to Fly scholarship is a program that was started by Equity Bank in partnership with Mastercard Foundation. The program targets bright but needy children. Since inception, the program has so far sponsored 17,304 students.

So far, some 8,062 beneficiaries have joined universities after completing their secondary school while 2,000 have join Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutions.

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