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Strive Masiyiwa: Herbert Wigwe, a Giant of African Enterprise

A few days ago I woke up to the sad news that my dear friend Herbert Wigwe, the co-founder of one of Africa’s largest banks, Access Bank, ha...

A few days ago I woke up to the sad news that my dear friend Herbert Wigwe, the co-founder of one of Africa’s largest banks, Access Bank, had been killed in a helicopter crash, alongside his wife [Chizoba], son [Chizi], and three others including Abimbola Ogunbanjo [former group Chair of the Nigerian Exchange Group] and the pilots.

For a while, I refused to accept it and just kept looking at the news feeds as I hoped it just wasn’t true. Sadly, it turned out to be true and I just mourned with my wife as we remembered this amazing African.

In my world of business, Herbert was the “real deal," a highly skilled entrepreneur who built one of Africa’s biggest banks along with his partner and friend Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. Another towering African entrepreneur.

Herbert was a master of #Scale; he knew how to make a business big. He understood and applied the core principles of building and running a large business. And Access Bank was big and getting bigger as it turned to become a global player.

It was always a joy to chat with him, and I respected him deeply. I know he built a strong management culture and the bank will endure. My condolences to all his family, friends, colleagues, and associates.

“Today and always, let us remember that life is a precious gift – a chance to breathe, feel, love, experience and connect. Let’s honor this gift by living with purpose, kindness, and gratitude, making every moment count. Let us number our days”. Herbert Wigwe, Post on X in January 2024.

According to online sources, Wigwe was born on 15 August 1966. At the time his death, he was the group managing director and CEO of Access Bank Plc, one of Nigeria's top five banking institutions, after succeeding his business partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

Wigwe started his career at Coopers & Lybrand and Guaranty Trust Bank before joining Access Bank in 2002 as the company's deputy managing director. He became the chief executive officer of the company in January 2014. 

He died in a helicopter crash on 9 February 2024 in the United States on his way to attend the Super Bowl LVIII championship in Las Vegas.

Wigwe was born in Isiokpo, Rivers State or Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. His father was the head of the Nigerian Television Authority and his mother was a nurse. Wigwe earned a bachelor's degree in accountancy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1987.

In 1990, he received the British council scholarship to study at the University College of North Wales (now Bangor University), earning a Master of Arts in banking and finance in 1991.

He later earned a MSc in financial economics from the University of London in 1996. He attended the Harvard Business School executive management program, and in 2018 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. - Online Sources 

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