Founding CEO Zafu Eyesuswork Clings to United

Zafu Eyesuswork, a corporate leader with global experience in the insurance business, has assumed the position of Chairperson of the Board for United Bank S.C. This has taken place immediately after he left the same post at United Insurance Company S.C., in which he had served for the past seven years. He was a founding member of both companies. Getamessay Degefu, who is also the Bank’s co-founder, was appointed as Vice Chairperson.

His appointment came on the heels of his completed term at the insurance company. In addition to his position on the Board of Directors, he also worked as

“I had to choose between the two,” Zafu told Fortune. “A new governance document issued by the insurance company stated that I can’t assume both positions at the same time.”

Zafu, who was the first CEO of the insurance company, had served in that position for 17 years. In 2011 he was replaced by the current CEO, Meseret Bezabih. Following his retirement as CEO he became Advisor to the same company for six years, before leaving a year ago.

Now in 2016, he has succeeded Fasil Asnake, the Bank’s outgoing Chairperson who had served for three years, as prescribed by the governance directive of the central bank. During his three-years tenure, Fasil served United Insurance as Legal Service Director, a position he still retains.

Candidate selection was made by the shareholders during their Annual General Assembly in November last year. However, the transition only started recently. The departing director’s chair will be vacated as per the central bank’s directive on corporate governance issued last year. The directive states that the term of office of the departing directors of a bank may not terminate until written approval for appointment of the incoming director is approved by the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE).

Nine individuals including Zafu and Getamesay were nominated at the General Assembly. Two of the nine were already members of United Bank’s Board. On March 12, 2016, the central bank approved only eight of the nine. Azalech Yirgu and Wube Kinfu were the pre-existing Board members, while Fekadu Girma, Tsegaye Debefu and Wosenu Kumela were new candidates.

Following their election, NBE approved the candidacy of all except one, Abdulhamid Abubaker, general manager of Garad Plc, a company known for distributing Samsung brand electronic gadgets.

“The NBE has still not decided on the fate of the ninth member,” said Taye Debekulu, president of United Bank.

Anyone who has been a member of the Board previously has to wait a minimum of six years before assuming the position again. Abdulhamid had been on the Board as late as 2012.

Nevertheless, the Bank can still keep him on by changing his presence from a representation of himself, to a representation of his company, or vice versa.

The indecision could be emanating from the Bank’s side, if they are having trouble deciding whether such a transformation could have constitute conflict of interest, said a manager at another insurance company, who wished to remain unnamed.

In the meantime, the Board got together on March 22 and elected Zafu as their Chairperson, putting him in the same position for the second time in the Bank’s two-decade history.

The very next day, Zafu shared the end of his tenure with United Insurance via his Facebook page.

Zafu, known by many in the business circle, will chair the Board for at least three years.

The two financial institutions established in the early 90’s play a significant role in the industry. In 2014/15 under his leadership, United Insurance had registered a profit after tax of 60.29 million Br, and expanded its paid-up capital to 175 million Br.

Now in his late 70’s, Zafu will chair the Bank that has managed to report 281 million Br in profit after tax and amassed a paid up capital of 974.7 million Br.



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