The Nairobi-headquartered Equity Bank is considering entry into neighbouring Somalia as it seeks to expand its regional business.
This would make it the first major Kenyan company to invest in what has until recently a war-torn country.
The bank’s chief executive officer James Mwangi said that Somalia provides a good opportunity for Kenyan investors and that banks would most likely lead the way.
"Kenyans’ tax money has been used to liberate and create peace in that country. We should now seek a peace dividend and this can only be achieved by investing in the market,” he said, but declined to give any timelines of the project.
Kenya's army has since October 2011 been fighting the Al-Shabaab militia in Somalia and has targeted August as the time they would expect to have liberated the country.
Mr Mwangi was speaking on Monday during a breakfast meeting held to celebrate his new award as the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year 2012.
He won the award in recognition of the impressive financial performance and the magnitude of jobs created by the bank, Kenya's largest by customer base, over the last 10 years, despite a five-year span of global economic recession.
Ernst & Young Kenya chairman and CEO, Gitahi Gachahi said the award also recognises the bank’s innovation in products and having led the rest into mobile and agency banking.
“Mr Mwangi has set up a unique business model that gives stakeholders a feeling of representation and redefined the risk profile for borrowers and depositors,” he said.
Other factors that contributed to the award are the bank’s big customer base with over eight million customers, its corporate social responsibility programmes and the fact that Mr Mwangi sits in several organisations' boards.
“This represents a big opening for the bank in the global arena as a recognised brand but yet a huge challenge since we are still small but we shall have to keep up with international standards,” Mr Mwangi said.
The bank also operates in Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.