Araya Gebregziabher (right), former president of one of the oldest private banks, was honoured as Wegagen Bank celebrated its silver jubilee at the Hilton Hotel on Saturday night, June 11, 2022. Yinager Dessie (PhD) (centre-right), governor of the central bank, was alongside Wegagen’s current leadership, Board Chairperson Abdishu Hussein and Aklilu Wubet, president (left). The Bank has been celebrating the milestone for months, starting with a one million Birr donation to the Children’s Heart Fund of Ethiopia.

It was a jolly event. There was a live band, a dance performance, dinner and champagne. There was also a short documentary narrating the Bank's 25-year journey, with humble beginnings in two branches, 16 shareholders and 30 million Br in paid-up capital. Today, it has thousands of shareholders, 3.4 billion Br in paid-up capital and 41 billion Br in assets. It owns a landmark property as its headquarters on Ras Mekonnen Avenue, across the Addis Abeba Stadium.

Wegagen’s quarter of a century has not been without its challenges, especially in the past two years. The civil war that broke out in late 2020 has bruised the Bank more than most of its competitors in the industry. Its executives were honest about this. The Board Chairman recalled the Bank lost around two billion Birr in deposits due to a bank run after allegations of storing "illegal weaponry' was recycled by the mainstream media, without verifications. Wegagen Bank's performance in the previous year was disconcerting. Its profit was down 85pc compared with the year earlier, leading to a management shakeup, witnessing two presidents over the past two years before Aklilu took the helm.

The tumble the Bank has gone through over the past two years is manageable as far as the new leadership is concerned. They put on a brave face, defiantly looking forward to a future that resembles the first 23 years of the silver jubilee.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 11,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1154]

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