Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Family Bank founder started own bank after he was denied promotions for lacking a degree

By Jane Muia

Family Bank, which has an asset base of Ksh 130 million, has, over the years, grown to become the best bank in Kenya. The bank, which has created employment for over 1,500 people, was founded by Titus Kiondo Muya alias TK in 1984.

Muya is among the most outstanding entrepreneurs in the country and the founder of several family-owned businesses spanning around banking, Insurance, real estate, and agriculture sectors.

The dream of founding a bank was born after reading a business article in an international magazine in 1961 at the age of 18. The verse in the magazine which inspired him the most and even changed his life read:

“Most of the big institutions we all see in the world today were all started by individuals. They all start small and in their own countries of origin and thereafter open branches across the world and become international organizations.

Even some of the biggest banks you see in the world today were also started by individuals. They all start small and in their own countries of origin, and thereafter open branches across the world and become international organizations.’’

Titus Muya found the article fascinating and read it for the second time before affirming that he would someday become a bank founder. At this time, he was in form two.

He continued with his high school education after which he started chasing his dream. Instead of joining a higher learning institution, Muya secured a job and worked hard to see his dream come true.

“I did not go to anybody’s University. And once in a while, I tell people I went to the University of Family bank because this is where I have learned so much,’’ said the Family Bank founder.

His roles involved training University graduates who later became better than him, denying him promotions.

“When I asked my boss why I was not being promoted, I was advised I was not a University graduate. I was told since I was not a university graduate, promotions coming to me in the future would be few and far between,’’ added Muya.

He felt so disappointed and thought his career progression had come to an end. He thought of going back to school, but this was futile as he had a young family and was also the breadwinner in his extended family.

Titus Muya: Man who defied odds to start Family Bank

At this point, his dream had started to dim as he did not have anyone to support him. His father had been killed by British soldiers in 1953 during the Mau Mau war liberation.

“He was beaten to death like an animal, and we even don’t know where he was buried”

His mother faced a lot of torture, leading to the loss of her sanity. Luckily, she survived the death plot but permanently remained at the Mathare mental hospital.

Muya and his two brothers and sister had no one to take care of them and ended up in the care of their father’s close relatives, who paid their school fees and settled their basic needs.

Being the firstborn, Titus Muya believed it was his responsibility to provide for his siblings and was certain that starting a bank would help him achieve that objective. He, however, did not have any capital; all he had was an idea, vision, and determination to start a bank.

He registered the bank in 1977 under the name Family Finance and Credit Limited. Despite registering the company, it remained imaginary for three years due to a lack of capital.

He then applied for a banking license. His application was turned down by the National treasury because he did not meet the required criteria. The National Treasury advised him to apply for a building license instead.

“To me, it looked like banking licenses were reserved for the rich and those with strong social connections.’’

He shared his disappointments with his friends, who encouraged him to apply for the building society license. He agreed, and the license was issued within two weeks. Family Finance and Credit Limited were then registered as a building society by the name Family Finance Building Society. Muya became the Chief Executive Officer of the Family Finance Building Society and opened a temporary branch office in Nairobi in 1984.

Within a year, the company opened three more branches in Kiambu, Githunguri, and Nairobi. The group then rolled out a school fees loan product that targeted small-scale tea, coffee, and dairy farmers.

The product attracted a lot of customers, and within two years, the number of Family bank customers had grown in folds. All the branches in Nairobi and Kiambu counties started making profits, and the company expanded to other counties. By 2005, the Family Finance Building Society had over 30 branches countrywide.

It was allowed to convert to a commercial bank in 2007 by the Central Bank of Kenya. The bank is currently the 14th largest bank out of the 42 banks in the country, with 93 branches countrywide and 3 other branches under construction. The Family bank is also the fourth largest bank in the branch network.

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