Executive Coaching is Influencing Change in Africa’s Financial Sector

Globally, executive coaching has become a leadership capacity building tool facilitating change management, enhancing strategic thinking, performance management, organisational effectiveness and supporting individual growth. Coaching provides targeted support for leaders to address specific challenges they face in their operating context. It can influence how leaders drive change sustainably towards expanding into new markets, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where financial exclusion is highly prevalent.

FSD Africa believes executive coaching will contribute towards addressing capacity constraints within Africa’s financial systems. These constraints contribute to the prevalent bias of financial institutions towards the formal sector, excluding the informal sector that constitutes the bulk of Africa’s population. In 2013, FSD Africa initiated and funded programs aimed at catalysing the development of robust executive coaching services markets across SSA. The initiatives aim to support the building of leadership capability that is responsive to the financial needs of the environment they operate in. The initiatives across Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Nigeria included;

  • Research on the state of the executive coaching services markets in Kenya, Zambia and Nigeria commissioned by FSD Africa.
  • Thirty financial sector c-suite executives from East Africa benefiting from a 5 month coaching program paired with internationally accredited coaches from the region. The aim was to stimulate demand for coaching and introduce the executives to the benefits of coaching.
  • Five of the thirty executives in the above program have started the journey to building a coaching culture within their organisations. Supported by FSD Africa this program aims to inculcate coaching as a management tool at all levels of their organisations.
  • To ensure a steady supply of quality local coaches FSD Africa will support firms that aspire to train coaches in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Nigeria. The aim is to develop their capacity to train locally based coaches along international certification and accreditation standards.
  • From 2016, FSD Africa will expand the on-going East African initiatives to Zambia and Nigeria. These two markets will be used as springboards to catalysing the development of coaching services markets in Western & Southern Africa.
  • FSD Africa supported the inauguration of an Executive Coaching – Financial Sector Advisory Board  (FS-ECAB) and funds its activities. The FS-ECAB comprises of experienced coaches and financial services practitioners across Africa, as well as donors focused on the development of SSA’s financial sector. It’s mandate is to catalyse the growth of local executive coaching associations and international coaching best practice across the continent.

These interventions aim to prove the business case and benefits of investing in executive coaching to financial services providers (FSPs). To this end, FSD Africa seeks to position coaching as a viable tool that enables the development of relevant and profitable solutions in the FSP’s markets. Specifically, FSD Africa’s interventions seek to catalyse the development of a coaching market in SSA that;

  • Leads to a high prevalence of affordable, quality and sustainable supply of coaching services across the continent.
  • Develop coaching as a viable business for institutions that train accredited coaches and channeling individuals’ experiences into supporting the next generation of leaders.
  • Supports leaders operating in a constantly evolving market that requires development of innovative strategies and delivery models that have not been tested elsewhere.
  • Inculcates a leadership culture that addresses the reality that to grow, FSPs in SSA must serve the needs of all market segments, the majority of which are currently excluded.
  • Will be supported by rules and regulations to ensure the right quality of services delivery and continuous improvement, as well as protecting consumers of these services.

There is evidence that a shift is happening in the executive coaching services market in East Africa. Leading and innovative players like CBA  and Jubilee Insurance are taking up coaching as a key tool for developing leadership that responds to their environmental realities. We are seeing other innovative and change minded FSPs in East Africa adapting the examples set by these market leaders around executive coaching.

Captains of industry are increasingly enrolling for coaching accreditation courses and local firms are starting to offer consultancy services towards building coaching in SSA. Strathmore Business School is inculcating coaching into its leadership development programs and may start training certified and internationally accredited coaches. Other private actors like CDI Africa and Career Connections are already training certified and internationally accredited local coaches.

Other donors are also responding. An Argidius funded program to be implemented by Creative Metier is in the pipeline with a focus on providing coaching services to SMEs in Kenya as a pilot. If successful the program will be expanded to the rest of East Africa.

FSD Africa anticipates that executive coaching will become an enabling and complimentary tool that enables leaders to see opportunities in serving new market segments. Ultimately, an increasing number of financial services players seeing these opportunities will lead to increasing financial access across the continent. As Equity Bank, CBA and Safaricom have shown, the next growth opportunities for Africa’s financial sector are in the currently underserved market segments. Easily accessible professional executive coaching will support FSP leaders on the journey towards offering relevant products to the next financial markets frontier. This will ultimately lead to improved livelihoods and economic well-being for an increasingly larger proportion of Africans.

About the Author: Paul Musoke is the Director – Change Management & Building Services Markets, at the Financial Sector Deepening Africa a DFID funded program based in Nairobi, Kenya

You can follow Paul on twitter @pammusoke

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