Herbert Wigwe, a key figure in Nigerian finance, was instrumental in determining the development of the country’s financial system. Through savvy acquisitions and alliances, he grew Access Bank Plc into Access Holdings, Nigeria’s largest lender by assets.
Wigwe began his career at Coopers & Lybrand Associates before moving on to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, where he managed a variety of portfolios for almost a decade. In 2002, he and business partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede purchased Access Bank.
Under Wigwe’s leadership, the bank grew to become Nigeria’s fourth largest in 2017. The acquisition of Diamond Bank in December 2018 triggered a structural shift that ended in the formation of Access Holdings in March 2022.
Wigwe, his wife, son, and former Nigerian Stock Exchange president Abimbola Ogunbanjo died in a helicopter accident in the United States on February 9, 2024. Abubakar Jimoh, Chairman of Access Holdings, confirmed his death and affirmed his legacy of growth and operational excellence in a statement.
Wigwe owned a 9.09 percent share in Access Holdings, which was worth $54 million at the time he died. His impact went beyond the financial sector, with an emphasis on creating a globally connected community of ecosystems inspired by Africa and designed for the globe.
Wigwe’s influence stretched beyond the financial industry and had an impact on the entire Nigerian economy. Access Holdings, under his leadership, expanded into asset management, payments, and other critical value categories. His objective was to create a globally connected community of ecosystems inspired by Africa for the world.
His influence extends to Access Bank Plc, Access Holdings, and his investment holding company, Tengen Holdings. In addition, he worked on philanthropic initiatives such as the HOW Foundation, which focuses on youth empowerment, leadership, mentorship, and wellness.
Access Holdings and the Nigerian financial community mourn the loss of Wigwe, a visionary leader who reshaped the African banking sector. HowNG acknowledges his influential links with the following enterprises during his lifetime:
1. Access Holdings
Access Holdings, a financial services behemoth in Nigeria, has operations in 12 African countries, with plans to increase its influence in Africa and Europe. Access Holdings, which serves as the holding company for several divisions such as banking, asset management, payments, pensions, and insurance, exemplifies Herbert Wigwe’s vision for a diverse and robust financial ecosystem. As the group’s managing director and CEO, Wigwe owned a 9.09 percent interest worth $54 million.
2. Access Bank Plc
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.
3. Tengen Holdings
Tengen Holdings Limited, a Mauritius-based investment holding company, represents the Wigwe family’s financial interests. Tengen Holdings has recently played a key role in the acquisition of more Access Holdings shares, bolstering Wigwe’s position with a 9.09 percent holding. This decision was a strategic investment in the financial environment, demonstrating the family’s commitment to long-term success.
4. HOW Foundation
The Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe Foundation (HOW Foundation), founded by Wigwe in 2016, is a non-profit organization dedicated to youth empowerment, leadership development, and health efforts, particularly malaria and prostate cancer awareness. The foundation’s impact extends beyond health, as it supports educational programs such as the annual God’s Children Great Talent Contest. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the charity showed its dedication to community welfare by donating food and relief supplies.
5. Wigwe University
Wigwe University, announced in November 2023, exemplifies the company’s devotion to education. Wigwe pledged a transformative $500 million investment to address Nigeria’s skills gap by developing a creative and globally competitive institution. The institution, which is slated to open soon, represents Wigwe’s lifelong dream to mold Nigeria’s future through cutting-edge education and the development of the next generation of African leaders.