Kafilat Araoye: A Doyen Leading Nigeria’s First Digital Non-Interest Bank
Kafilat Araoye, CEO and Managing Director of Lotus bank is a tenacious woman passionate about driving financial inclusion in the nation.
With a belief that financial inclusion is the needed tool for economic development, Kafilat leverages her over 30 years of experience to ensure that the number of unbanked is drastically reduced.
Kafilat has explored the core areas of banking, with emphasis on International and Domestic Operations, Payment, General Management, Business Development, Risk Management, Human Resources and Strategy.
How the historian became a banker?
Kafilat graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Reports say she opted for history because was trying to run away from Mathematics. She also graduated as the best student during her M.Sc. Programme from the Faculty of Industrial Relations & Personnel Management, University of Lagos.
Upon graduation, Kafilat worked for a chemical marketing company called Nigerian Hoechst, now Nigerian-German Chemical, where she was exposed to human resources. She moved from Nigerian Hoechst to National Oil and Chemicals Marketing Company Plc, an organisation partly owned by Shell Petroleum Development Company. Her interest in finance began at a time when Shell was diversifying. Kafilat was actively involved in account reconciliation with little or no automation procedure.
In 1990, Kafilat moved to Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) as the Pioneer Head of the Human Resource Department. During her stay at GTB, Kafilat had the privilege of being equipped with basic accounting, banking and finance skills. She was enrolled on the maiden edition of their Training school and graduated as one of the top five of her class. She was also part of the GTBank team sent to Jordan for the implementation of its core banking application amongst other critical assignments executed for the Bank.
Her journey at GTBank
After serving as head of Human Resources at GTBank for two years, Kafilat was moved to Foreign operations, where she worked in International Settlements for six years. After that, she returned back to the Human Resource Department to help re-vision and restructure the bank. Kafilat spent four years in the department and was moved to Operations to oversee several sections of the bank’s core operations including e-Business (Digital Banking). She moved back to Human Resources in the same bank in 2011 and left the bank in 2015 to go into consulting.
From GTBank to Lotus Bank
Kafilat consulted for banks and other sectors through her consulting outfit until 2018 when she was appointed as the MD Designate for LOTUS Bank. Upon her appointment, Kafilat brought in her expertise in virtually all areas of core banking into ensuring that the goal of the bank is achieved. With a passion to serve people in a qualitative way, Kafilat introduces innovative solutions that help advance business and advance stakeholders. Under her leadership, Lotus bank which is deeply rooted in ethical banking, committed to ethical investing and ethical prosperity, has had a meteoric rise up the ladder of banking in Nigeria. It won the Best Bank of the Year,” “Best emerging Islamic Retail Bank Award” and Best Digital Banking Platform (Non-Interest Bank) Category at the Nigeria FINTECH Award, in 2022.
According to her, these awards “are an independent recognition of Lotus Bank’s contributions to the growth of the financial sector and by extension the economy.” The CEO is determined “to continue partnering with individuals, owners of micro small, and medium enterprises, large corporates, and communities to expand the frontiers of financial inclusion and economic development for sustainable wealth creation and the greater good.”
Kafilat who strongly believes in channelling the energy to the right place noted that they are going to marry some of the experiences gathered from working in the conventional bank to meet the needs of customers.
Kafilat holds Islamic Finance certifications issued by the Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance, the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment/Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance, and the Islamic Research & Training Institute. She also holds some certifications in some specialised banking courses, including the Structured Trade Finance Course by Euromoney U.K, and the Payments, Clearing and Settlement Conference by the National Association of Clearing Houses, USA.
Also, Kafilat has taken various executive management courses at the Cranfield School of Management UK, Lagos Business School, Institute of Management Development Switzerland, INSEAD in France, Ross Business School, and the University of Michigan(USA).
She was part of several Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Implementation Committees on some Settlement and Payment solutions between 2002 and 2007 and represented Nigeria at the Banking Techniques and Practice committee of the International Chamber of Commerce, between 2006 and 2011. She was a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers’ Committee on Capacity building and Certification from 2014 to 2020 and is currently a member of the Advocacy & Strategy Committee of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.
Kafilat also serves as a Member of the Governing Board of many institutions. Some of which include, Fountain University Oshogbo, Board of Crescent Schools, Victoria Island, City of Knowledge Academy, and Elder’s Council, Al Muhtudeen Islamic Foundation (formerly Muslim Youth Forum).
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