Rose Okwechime: Woman who founded and sustained a now 30 years old Nigerian bank

By Duchess Magazine

Only a few women made their mark in the Nigerian banking sector the way Rose Okwechime has done at her young age. Even in her 70s, she is still energetic and standout after retiring from the banking industry.

Okwechime started her banking career in 1971 with the Bank of England where she spent almost 10 years. Within 9 years, she was shuffled into different Units and this allowed her to acquire a different experience in strategic planning, systems development, and problem-solving within the bank.

She came back to Nigeria in 1980 and worked with the Bank of Credit and Commerce International Nigeria Limited ( later change to African Int’l Bank Plc or AIB) in 1981. Her overseas experience paved way for her quickly in the country where she had the opportunity to share her administrative and managerial experiences. She served as Assistant Manager, Operations Manager, and Principal Manager and then rose to become Head of the bank’s corporate banking unit.

Okwechime then left AIB to start her bank in 1992. She was passionate about it and got inspired by her customers at AIB. At first, she was not specific about the kind of bank she was going to start, Maybe a Mortgage or Commercial bank. She went ahead and applied for two bank licenses, one for a mortgage bank called Abbey Mortgage Bank, and another for a Commercial bank called Pearl Bank. She decided that whichever license was approved first would be the indication of where God wanted her to go. Within a short period, the first license was released for Abbey Mortgage Bank.

It started as a Building Society, and with time expanded into a full-fledged Mortgage Bank. Rose Okwechime was the Managing Director/CEO. With her rich experience in banking.

The vision was to grow Abbey Mortgage Bank into a leader in the mortgage industry and a one-stop financial solution firm in Nigeria. The Mortgage Banking sector was very much behind the Commercial sector so she injected the same energy and passion she had used in her previous experiences to grow the bank and spread its services across the country, one step at a time. Today, Abbey Mortgage Bank has several branches nationwide and employs hundreds of staff.

Abbey Mortgage Bank has also invested in Corporate Social Responsibilities, donating to kids in the hospital, physically challenged children, and orphans. She also sponsored events for kids on Nigerian Television Authority(NTA).

In 2020, she retired from Abbey Mortgage Bank and believes in the new directors to push forward the vision of the organization.

Okwechime is a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Baze University. She is an Affiliate Member of the Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria; a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria; and a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, London.

She has an MBA in Banking and Finance, and has taken part in the OWP Executive Leadership Educational Program at the Institute of Management Development LouSanne, Switzerland.

Now in her 70s, Mrs. Rose Okwechime has never been tired of being philanthropic. In many ways, she has shown support towards the physically challenged and has also extended into scholarship awards and provided aid for medical treatments.

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