Herbert Wigwe has become a staple in many Person Of The Year lists, for good reason too. His backstory is aspirational as they come, and his ambition is the stuff of legend. Leaving the safety of a career in an equally promising bank to start Access Bank in partnership with AIG Imokhuede seemed foolhardy, but Herbert had a desire to build the country’s biggest bank where the customer was prioritized and sustainability was celebrated and championed.
It has taken him nearly 2 decades, but Herbert has managed to grow Access Bank into one of the biggest customer banks on the continent, closing a series of high profile mergers with other innovative industry players and pushing initiatives that have helped the bank branch into other fields of expertise and community-based initiatives that has endeared the bank to its customers.
But what truly separates Herbert from his peers is his commitment to sustainability and his genuine interest in participating in and contributing to the culture around him. Herbert grew up in the heart of Ibadan, raised by his clergy father to see the good in all men and treat the earth as a treasured inheritance. His passion for philanthropy, however, is directly inspired by his mother, who was a career nurse, working through the civil war and beyond. His education took him to Sokoto and Warri, immersing him in the culture of the Caliphate and exposing him to the causes of the Niger Delta. A stint at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka would return him to his homeland and complete his immersion in every cultural region in the country, offering him a native’s understanding of these regions, and understanding the influences the strides he has made with Access Bank to this day.
Herbert’s Wigwe’s driving philosophy is that Access Bank is more than just a bank, and more than just a social enterprise; it is a catalyst for social change. With 29,000 thousand employees working within the massive multinational that Access Bank has become, Herbert’s influence spreads across the country and the continent, and the ideas he promotes directly or indirectly affect the 29 million customers the bank serves.
But I cannot end this without saying a few words about Wigwe has impacted my own life. The guidance, advice and financial support Herbert Wigwe has offered through Access Bank was one of the reasons I was able to bring to fruition Ebony Place, Nigeria’s first lifestyle entertainment resort and a huge leap forward for entertainment tourism in the country. Only a genius mind like his could see the vision I wanted to execute and commit to helping me see it to its glorious conclusion.
Thank you Herbert for being a friend to Nigerian entrepreneurs, everywhere.