Herbert Wigwe, a prominent figure in Nigerian banking, played a crucial role in shaping the growth of the country’s financial sector. Through strategic acquisitions and partnerships, he transformed Access Bank Plc into Access Holdings, now Nigeria’s largest lender by assets.
Wigwe’s career began at Coopers & Lybrand Associates, and he later spent over a decade at Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, managing diverse portfolios. In 2002, he and business partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede acquired Access Bank.
Under Wigwe’s leadership, the bank became the fourth largest in Nigeria in 2017. The acquisition of Diamond Bank in December 2018 marked a pivotal moment, leading to the structural transformation that resulted in the birth of Access Holdings in March 2022.
Tragically, Wigwe, along with his wife, son, and Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former president of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, lost his life in a helicopter accident in the United States on Feb. 9, 2024. Abubakar Jimoh, Chairman of Access Holdings, in a statement confirming his demise, affirmed his legacy of growth and operational excellence in a statement.
At the time of his passing, Wigwe held a 9.09-percent stake in Access Holdings, valued at $54 million. His impact extended beyond the financial sector, with a focus on building a globally connected community of ecosystems inspired by Africa for the world.
Wigwe’s influence extended beyond the financial sector, impacting the Nigerian economy at large. Access Holdings, under his guidance, diversified into assets management, payments, and other key value segments. His vision aimed at creating a globally connected community of ecosystems inspired by Africa for the world.
His impact reverberates across Access Bank Plc, Access Holdings, and his investment holding company, Tengen Holdings. Additionally, he dedicated efforts to philanthropic initiatives, including the establishment of the HOW Foundation, focusing on youth empowerment, leadership, mentorship, and health.
As Access Holdings and the Nigerian financial community mourn the loss of Wigwe, a visionary leader who played a pivotal role in reshaping the landscape of African banking, Billionaires.Africa recognizes his influential connections to the following companies during his lifetime:
Access Holdings, a powerhouse in Nigeria’s financial services sector, boasts operations across 12 African nations, strategically expanding its presence in Africa and Europe. Functioning as the holding company for various subsidiaries, including banking, asset management, payments, pensions, and insurance, Access Holdings reflects Herbert Wigwe’s vision for a diversified and robust financial ecosystem. As the group managing director and CEO, Wigwe held a 9.09-percent stake valued at $54 million.
Access Bank Plc, the flagship banking business under Access Holdings, stands as a leading full-service commercial bank. With a vast network spanning three continents, 18 countries, and serving over 49 million customers, Access Bank is a testament to Wigwe’s strategic prowess. In 2002, Wigwe, alongside Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, acquired Access Bank and orchestrated transformative moves, including the landmark acquisition of Diamond Bank in 2018, propelling Access Bank to its current status as Nigeria’s largest bank.
- Tengen Holdings
Tengen Holdings Limited, a Mauritius-based investment holding company, represents the financial interests of the Wigwe family. In recent years, Tengen Holdings played a pivotal role in the acquisition of additional shares in Access Holdings, solidifying Wigwe’s position with a 9.09-percent stake. This move marked a strategic investment in the financial landscape, showcasing the family’s commitment to long-term growth.
Founded in 2016 by Wigwe, The Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe Foundation (HOW Foundation) is a non-profit organization focused on youth empowerment, leadership, and health initiatives, particularly malaria and prostate cancer awareness. The foundation’s impact extends beyond health, as it sponsors educational programs, including the annual God’s Children Great Talent contest. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation demonstrated its commitment to community welfare by distributing food and relief packages.
Wigwe’s commitment to education reached its zenith with the visionary announcement of Wigwe University in November 2023. Pledging a transformative $500-million investment, Wigwe aimed to address Nigeria’s skills deficit by establishing an innovative and globally competitive institution. The university, set to launch soon, symbolizes Wigwe’s lifelong ambition to shape the future of Nigeria through cutting-edge education and the development of the next generation of African leaders.