Friday, January 31, 2020 / 09:00AM / Written by: Tayo Agunbiade / Header Image Credit: Nigeria Fintech Week
Today, 31st January 2020, Segun Lawrence Aina turns 65. This opens another page in the life of a man who has made global professional banking practice, education, youth development, fintech ecosystem building, innovation and technology, community development, philanthropy and inter-faith harmony, his apostolate.
Today, he is globally known for his vision and activities in the financial technology ecosystem and is variously referred to as the "Grandmaster of Fintech" and Nigeria's FinTech envoy." These sobriquets are tributes to his many exploits as a leading enabler and ecosystem builder. Shortly after leaving the position of Bank Managing Director, he with a visionary mind, founded Fintech Associates Ltd, a finance and technology solutions provider, which started business in 2006. The term 'Fintech' only became a global buzzword in the last five years! Aina and Fintech Associates Ltd had incubated many tech startup companies some of which are today leading players in the Fintech industry with presence and market in various African countries.
He is respected for his tireless effort and passion, to see the concept of a financial technology revolution fully adopted in Nigeria for economic development. He is also very passionate about a digitally transformed "one Africa market". It is thus not surprising, that he initiated and founded the Fintech Association of Nigeria, with the support of various industry leaders, and became its first President in 2017. Not done with that, he initiated and founded the Africa Fintech Network, designed as a union of National Fintech Associations, which was inaugurated in December 2018, with eleven countries, and within a year, increased to thirty-one African countries, and still growing.
Aina who was born in 1955 and grew up in Ibadan, Oyo State, has spent a substantial part of his life and career not only giving back into communities where he was nurtured but also to his ancestral home, in the state of Osun.
A banker by profession, Aina is a graduate of Accounting from the University of Lagos, with a Master's degree of Science in Banking and Finance from the University of Ibadan. His career in the banking industry began at UBA in 1974 and progressed to Ecobank where he rose in 1994 to the position of Executive Director in charge of operations and technology. In that capacity, he led efforts within the Ecobank Group to create innovative tech-driven banking products and services. He successfully drove the bank's expansion plans in Nigeria, with concurrence responsibility for group training, operations in the then five countries where Ecobank existed such as Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo and Cote D'Ivoire.
His remarkable banking career culminated in becoming the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Fountain Trust Bank Plc,(now Heritage Bank) which he led for six years with great accomplishments, before taking early and voluntary retirement from an illustrious banking career, spanning three decades.
To burnish his professional credentials, Aina undertook several courses including executive management programs at the Lagos Business School; INSEAD France; IMD, Switzerland and Harvard Business School in the US. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, London Institute of Banking and Finance, Institute of Directors, Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators (NICArB) amongst other professional organizations.
Aina's prowess as a consummate banker was rewarded at home and abroad with appointments to various corporate leadership professional positions including, President West African Bankers Association (Nigerian chapter); Directorships in several banks and non-banking financial institutions such as First Securities Discount House (FSDH), Financial Training Centre (FITC), Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), First Atlantic Bank Ghana. In 2012, he served as the 17th President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN). During the two-year term, education, research, technology and innovation were promoted as part of the highpoints of his tenure.
Indeed, a notable and international role he is currently playing is, representing Nigeria as the pioneer Chairman of the Global Banking Education Standards Board (GBEStB), which is an industry-led body set up by professional banking institutes across the world to "develop internationally-agreed standards for the education of professional bankers and enhances ethics and professionalism in banking worldwide." He is the first person to lead this international banking organisation, which is a global conglomeration of over forty professional Banking institutions.
Aina's passion for education is not limited to his professional world. The Segun Aina Foundation (SAF) which he set up in 1995, has supported the brilliant, but financially-challenged with scholarships, mentoring, skills-enhancing training and leadership programmes, for over two decades because he believes that "the surest way to empower an individual is to give him or her good quality and focused education which is the foundation of any development."
The Foundation has also instituted Endowments and Prize Awards in several tertiary institutions. In 2005, Aina funded the construction of a youth development centre, the Segun Aina Foundation Centre (SAF Centre), to serve as a resource and learning outlet for the youth population of his ancestral community of Otan Ayegbaju, Osun State and its environs.
One of the community projects closest to his heart is probably the grassroots development initiative known as Otan Ayegbaju Progressive Union (OAPU) which was founded in 1928 and has been a vehicle to push sustainable development in the town. Aina who believes that community-based development is the key to overall growth, served as OAPU's President from 2003 to 2007, and as the first Chairman of its Board of Trustees. He was also President of Boluwaduro Local Government Development Union.
It is instructive to note that, Aina has also used his expertise in the banking sector to lead the establishment of a financial services institution in Otan Ayegbaju, known as Boluwaduro Microfinance Bank. He has also been closely involved with the Osun Development Association (ODA), a think-tank of eminent and accomplished Osun State indigenes, set up to drive socio-economic development, where he served as Secretary from 2001 to 2010 and became the Chairman in 2017.
His passion for intellectual activities led him to co-author a book titled 'Otan-Ayegbaju-The Task of Re-Building' and edited 'OAPU at 80,' a compilation of articles on the historical developments and prospects of the organisation.
Segun Aina is also involved in international activities such as consulting and regular speaking engagements at international conferences and other events. He has deep roots in Canada, where he leads AO Global Inc, an international trade services organisation as Chairman, and member of the Toronto Regional Board of Trade, the Canadian Council for Africa and Nigeria Canada Business Network.
He has played multifarious roles in tertiary education as a member of the pioneer board of Obafemi Awolowo University Advancement Board; member, University of Ibadan Research Foundation; Chairman, The National Think Tank of the UI Research Foundation for converting research into innovation and public policy, Chairman, Advancement Board of Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) and member, Osun State University Advancement Board.
In recognition for his services in education, banking, community development, philanthropy and youth empowerment, he has been rewarded with honorary doctorate degrees (Doctor of Science) from three universities â€“ Doctor of Science in Business Administration by Achievers University, Owo in 2013; Doctor of Science Education (DSc. Ed) Business Education (Honoris Causa) from Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode in 2016; and Doctor of Science in Management (DSc. Honoris Causa) from the Federal University of Technology, Akure in 2018.
Active national service came in March 2014, when he was nominated to represent his professional constituency, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), at the "National Conference for the Nigerian People convened by the Federal Government of Nigeria from March to August 2014. While there, he served as the Convener/Chairman of the Professional Bodies Group and chaired the Sub-Committee on Economy, Trade and Investment. It is on record that he handed all the emoluments from the Conference to CIBN, his sponsors.
At 65, rather than throw a party to mark his special day, he has given financial support to some charitable causes, as well as create new charitable initiatives, as a mark of appreciation and thanksgiving to God for His abundant blessings.
As a perennial change agent whose impacts are not politically motivated, he has been recognized by two different political dispensations in Osun State as he was conferred with the Osun State Government: Merit Award in 2005 and Award of Excellence in Development Initiatives; Osun State Government in November 2019. Segun Aina who was conferred with a Nigeria National Honour of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR) in 2010, is a staunch Catholic with strong interfaith perspectives and is committed to identifying with other Christian denominations and Islam. He is a devoted husband to his wife, Funmi and loving father of his children, both biological and non-biological.
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