Namibia: BoN Celebrates Women Commercial Bank Leadership

THE first woman to head a banking institution in Namibia was once told by a teacher: “Jy is dom.”

This is Afrikaans for “you are stupid”.

Now heading a multimillion-dollar entity, Ester Kali, the chief executive officer of Letshego Namibia and the current chair of the Bankers Association of Namibia, yesterday recalled the incident, saying what people believe about one is not always decisive.

She, however, acknowledged that although she wasn’t a top achiever at school, this didn’t keep her from achieving success.

Kali’s voice now roars, telling young girls and women that nothing is impossible.

She was speaking at a Bank of Namibia event in the capital.

The event was in celebration of women taking over the reins at four of Namibia’s biggest banks with a combined value of more than N$90 billion.

Other than Kali, Bank Windhoek’s seasoned banker Beronice Hans, recently appointed Nedbank Namibia managing director Martha Murorua, and the incoming chief executive officer of Standard Bank Namibia, Mercia Geises, were also saluted.

The four women shared their stories on their journeys up the corporate ladder.

All echoed the importance of having the quality of delivering solid performance – regardless of one’s gender.

As a trailblazer, Kali was appointed chief executive officer in 2014.

In 2016, Bank Windhoek followed suit when they announced the appointment of Hans as its managing director.

Last year, with the economy battered by Covid-19, Nedbank Namibia appointed Usakos-born and raised Murorua as new managing director, and Standard Bank late last year placed its vote of confidence in Geises, who is expected to take over from Vetumbuavi Mungunda in May.

The governor of the Bank of Namibia, Johannes !Gawaxab, commended the women on their individual achievements.

“We now live in a different world where there is an overwhelming realisation that our daughters are just as capable as our sons,” !Gawaxab said.

The governor said the fact that four out of the top five commercial banks in Namibia now have female managing directors has made Namibia a leader on the continent in this regard.

“I must say this is indeed a success story, a story of excellence in the financial sector, in line with the transformation agenda of the sector which I am proud to tell,” he said.