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Bridging the Financial Inclusion Divide: The Scholarly Journey of Kwanele Batshele Ngwenya

Kwanele Batshele Ngwenya, the incumbent Chief Executive Officer of NBS Bank, exemplifies the epitome of erudition as he embarks on the culmination of his doctoral candidacy at DaVinci, poised for graduation later this month. Today, we illuminate the path that has etched within him an unwavering reservoir of profound purpose and a sense of stewardship.

Kwanele Batshele Ngwenya's career has been a rainbow ride, and it is not running out of colours anytime soon. Armed with vast working experiences in the financial sector, Kwanele describes himself as a career banker, having spent most of his life in banking; he has over 25 years of banking experience, 14 years of which have been in leadership positions, Kwanele informs us. He started his banking career with Nedbank, South Africa, before moving to FNB where he spent 11 years. Kwanele also has international experiences – having worked not just in South Africa, but Botswana, Zimbabwe, and now Malawi. Kwanele sits on the board of NICO Technologies and holds an advisory role on the Centre of Agricultural Transformation board.

Academically, he holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Oxford Brookes University (UK), Master of Science Degree in Strategic Management from University of Derby (UK), and a Master's Degree in Business Administration (Banking and Finance) from Bangor University in Wales. Further, he is a Chartered Banker with the institute of bankers in Scotland and holds advanced professional development certifications from several institutions like Wits and GIBS Business School.

Of recent, Kwanele has completed his Doctor of Management in Technology and Innovation with DaVinci, the thesis of which is entitled, An Effect Analysis Study of Financial Inclusion in Malawi: A Case Study of the NBS Pafupi Savings and Agent Banking.

Kwanele’s doctoral study investigates the challenges confronting the New Building Society (NBS) Bank since it launched its financial inclusion product, Bank Pafupi agent networks and Pafupi Savings account. Notably, Pafupi Savings customers are individuals from marginalised communities who have been excluded from the financial system due to limited financial capabilities and restricted access.

The contributions of this study are multifaceted, accords Kwanele, and encompass various dimensions. Firstly, the research interventions made towards marginalised communities have played a pivotal role in addressing their financial challenges and fostering inclusive growth. By analysing the effects of financial inclusion on bank agents, the thesis provided direct implications for policy makers and financial institutions seeking to promote inclusive financial practices and avenues for economic empowerment.

Moreover, the research sheds light on the implications for bank agent operators, providing them with valuable insights into the factors influencing their operations and profitability. Kwanele argues that, by recognising the unique challenges faced by bank agents and identifying strategies for overcoming obstacles, the thesis contributes to enhancing the effectiveness and sustainability of agent banking practices, therefore.

From an academic perspective, Kwanele further notes, the study adds to the construction of knowledge in the field of financial inclusion. Through comprehensive data collection, rigorous analysis, and robust methodologies, the research concurrently offers a deeper understanding of the profound relationship between financial inclusion and its impact on stakeholders within the banking sector.

Interestingly, as Kwanele notes further, the implication of his research extends beyond academia and contribute to the economic landscape, as it explores the economic impact of financial inclusion initiatives, providing insights into the potential benefits and opportunities for businesses, individuals, and the overall development of Malawi's economy. Central to the thesis is the proposition of a model on financial inclusion, which serves as a critical outcome of the research – and thus the proposed model aims to guide practitioners, policymakers, and financial institutions in formulating strategies and policies that promote inclusive practices, thereby driving sustainable economic growth and social progress.

Based on DaVinci’s unique TIPS™ Managerial Leadership Framework, with a focus on innovation, document analysis, personal reflections, return of investments as a stakeholder, interviews and survey findings – the researcher developed a proposed National Identification Digital Financial Inclusion interoperability model for Malawi.

The NID model could be integrated into financial institutions like banks, microfinance institutions (MFIs), financial cooperatives (FCs), Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) led models and agents-led models. It will operate by the interoperability of the Reserve Bank of Malawi, National Registration Bureau (NRB), Malawi Nation Identification Card (NID), the banking industry, MFIs and FCs, MNOs, passports and Agents. This, as Kwanele purports, will make the NID perform as an interoperability ATM card.

The NRB will facilitate interoperability by linking customers’ national IDs to the financial institutions, including the banking industry, MFIs and FCs, MNOs, passports and Agents. A customer will be able to access financial services at Point of Sale (POS), agents, ATMs, personal computers (PCs), and phones anywhere in Malawi and abroad. The customer's national ID number will act as an account number, instead of the bank account number.

Kwanele's remarkable achievement of attaining a doctoral qualification while concurrently serving as the CEO of one of Malawi's premier banks stands as a testament, in his own words, to his extraordinary dedication, unwavering resilience, and exceptional capacity for effective time management. These three attributes have been pivotal in his journey to triumph, enabling him to adeptly harmonise the rigorous demands of both his professional and academic roles.

Furthermore, as he allocates credit to those in his closest circle, Kwanele extends his heartfelt gratitude to his family for their unwavering support, his academic supervisor for invaluable guidance, the esteemed board members of NBS Bank, the executives of NBS Bank, and every member of the dedicated staff.

Last but not least: “This has been the most fulfilling part of my life. To the management at The Da Vinci Institute, I want to extend a word of appreciation to you, for coming up with such an excellent research program that focuses on technology and innovation.”


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