Chris August Senior Banking Specialist and Financial Sector Development Consultant
Banking Solutions Limited
UK Landline: +44 203 287 1843
Cyprus Mobile: +357 9675 9099
Jordan Mobile: +962-795 460 390
Skype name: chrisaugust
I have over 35 years' experience in international banking and investment, working in the UK, France, Lebanon, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia, as well as being responsible for banking operations in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. My first banking role was in London in the Africa and Middle East Department of National Westminster Bank. Later, in Saudi Arabia, I ran the Merchant Banking Division of The Saudi British Bank (HSBC affiliate) and established its international division. I then moved to Bahrain where I was part of a small team to establish a Kuwait-Bahrain consortium bank operating in the Middle Wast, Asia Pacific and Australasia, and was promoted to Deputy General Manager, responsible for credit and marketing, treasury, investment, operations and administration. I worked for the bank for 7 years. I was also closely involved in mergers and acquisitions in South East Asia and Australasia, and subsequently worked in Australia for 2 years for a boutique merchant/investment bank in that field.
In 1992, I set up a banking consultancy in London, Banking Solutions Limited(www.bankingsolutions.co.uk), and have since personally carried out in assignments in Ghana, The Gambia, Guyana, Tunisia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. During this period, as a consultant for the European Commission, I worked to merge three credit institutions in the Palestinian Territories, and converted the resulting fund (Palestinian Development Fund) into a development bank (Palestinian Banking Corporation) for which I was CEO for 6 years until 2005. The main business of the bank was lending to SMEs. During this time, I was also closely involved in a number of Israeli-Palestinian business initiatives, particularly in IT and tourism and in investment funds.
I have served on various bank boards, including Korea International Finance Corporation (affiliated with World Bank/IFC) and Xiamen International Bank, in China. I have been a guest speaker at various international banking and investment conferences. In the UK, I served for many years as the UK Representative for the largest bank from the Philippines.
In 2006-2007, I worked for the British Government (DFID) in Iraq to try to improve the banking sector in Basra Province, to increase access to credit for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and to develop international trading and investment links for Iraq. During this time, I established the parameters for a regional SME loan fund in Basra. I also worked to assist UNIDO in the establishment of an SME fund for the whole of Iraq, and in formulating an Iraq agricultural credit scheme for an EU government. From July 2008 to June 2009, I worked in Baghdad on a World Bank assignment to restart an SME fund for the Iraqi government, and from October 2009 to October 2011 worked in Jordan on a World Bank project to restructure a government-owned municipal bank. In June 2011, I became part of a small team monitoring the Temporary Financing Mechanism established to assist the new Libyan ruling council on behalf of the Contact Group, disbursing some US$ 1.6 billion for medical expenses and heating oil. In 2012, I returned to Baghdad to work on a USAID project to improve access to finance in Iraq and in upgrading the banking system.
In 2013, I became an adviser to Philadelphia Consulting Group in Amman to assist with their business development in the region, in particular in Baghdad and Erbil. Philadelphia has 20 years' history of consulting in the banking, oil & gas, corporate and government sectors, and also undertakes training in all these sectors. The Group has sister companies in medical services, executive recruitment and marketing in MENA, Germany, the UK - www.PhiladelphiaConsulting.com. I have also recently been involved privately in World Bank and IMF-funded assignments in Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi, as well as running SME finance training workshops for Asian bankers in Malaysia and Jakarta.
In 2014, I became a member of the Iraq-British Financial Working Group to advise on banking sector reform, and also worked on a project in Iraq to recommend ways to upgrade and simplify customs procedures. In late 2014, I joined a DFID project in Bangladesh to establish a Credit Guarantee Fund to induce banks to increase their lending to small businesses, particularly in rural areas, also with a focus on women-owned enterprises and "green" projects. In September 2015, I became Team Leader for the project, Business Finance for the Poor in Bangladesh, also responsible for a Challenge Fund, a Microfinance Credit Information Bureau and a Policy Component. The Challenge Fund was established to provide grants to new innovative ideas to assist micro-enterprises, and the Policy component exists to influence improvement in BD government policies relating to micro-enterprises and small businesses, also leading the way to develop a strategy for national Financial Inclusion.
In 2016, I also carried two scoping missions for DFID, one was to look into the possibility of establishing a credit guarantee scheme in Kenya, and the other was leading a team to review infrastructure development support for the Palestinian Territories.
In July 2017, I started advising a Kurdish industrial conglomerate on the establishment of a new commercial bank in Iraq, based in Dubai. The project has since been frozen following the Kurdish independence referendum in September 2017. During my time, I carried out an exercise for the group on corporate governance to reduce the reliance on family members in operational aspects.
Since early 2018. I have carried out various programme evaluations for the EU, and also completed a study on SME Access to Finance in Jordan for USAID. Among the evaluations were banking, energy, water and agricultural programmes in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Jordan and Egypt. More recently, I have been involved in an MSME programme in Jordan, and other support programmes in the West Bank and Gaza.
I have experience of all banking products and services, operations and activities (necessary in setting up and evaluating financial institutions), and in corporate governance, access to finance (MSMEs), financial inclusion and risk management. I have a strong practical knowledge of all banking and investment policies and procedures, as well as banking law and investment law.I am very comfortable with all cultures, and maintain a current list of international contacts in banking, business and politics in the regions in which I operate (mainly the Middle East, Africa and South Asia). I am known for my problem solving, project management, strong inter-personal skills, staff management and development, as well as communication skills, diplomacy and advocacy. As well as English, my mother tongue, I am proficient in French and Arabic.
I was born in London, England, and have British nationality. I was educated in the UK, France, Germany and Holland, and obtained a Double Honours Degree in Mechanical Engineering and Economics at the University of Birmingham. I later spent a year at the Middle East Centre for Arabic Studies in Lebanon learning Arabic. My home base is Nicosia, Cyprus.
2018 has seen me visiting 4 additional countries - Mongolia, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova - carrying out monitoring exercises on behalf of the European Union. The projects reviewed were mainly SME access to finance programmes, but also one related to energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE), entailing loans via financial intermediaries for "green" mortgages/construction and equipment upgrades, and investments in wind farms and hydro-power plants.