It is with heavy hearts that we share the very sad news that John Lwande, Program Director of the Africa Board Fellowship Program (ABF) and our dear friend and colleague, passed away earlier this week following a brave battle with cancer.
John had been a part of CFI for the past five years, a part of Accion since 2008, and an important contributor to inclusive finance since the 1980s.
John’s leadership of ABF over the past five years led to it becoming sub-Saharan Africa’s preeminent peer learning program for financial institutions. The nearly 300 Fellows who have graduated from the program represent 75 financial institutions that serve more than seven million clients – and each of them has benefitted from John’s leadership. Many of them regarded him as a mentor.
Not only was John a valued member of the CFI team, he was an important contributor to Accion’s work in Africa. Joining Accion in 2008, John’s first role was as the seconded Managing Director to Tanzania’s Akiba Commercial Bank. He helped Akiba address and overcome a variety of challenges and grow to reach tens of thousands of Tanzania’s families and small businesses. Akiba flourished under John’s management. Following his time with Akiba, John was an integral part of Accion’s Africa regional management team, serving on boards, and always handling challenging situations with a calm head. Stretching back in his career, John played a leading role in the transformation of Tanzania’s National Microfinance Bank, and served for several years in key positions at FINCA. He began his career at Kenya Rural Enterprise Program, one of the very first pioneering microfinance organizations in East Africa.
John’s enormously important contributions to the sector always took the form of building financial institutions that perform well, a job that involves sustained hard work, often with little public recognition. Those of us who have worked with John can attest to the difference he made.
John leaves behind a wonderful family legacy of his wife and four children. We are grateful to them for sharing John with us, and send our deepest sympathies for their loss.
For us, John was not only a wonderful colleague but a very special person who manifested the qualities that we most admire: patience, leadership, good judgement, and a larger than life personality with an unforgettable laugh and broad smile for everyone. He was passionate about his work, committed to the goal of building a strong Africa, and he had a most positive outlook on life. He knew how to lead teams and to be part of a team. All of us at CFI will miss him terribly, and we are committed to keeping his spirit alive, especially in our work in Africa.