Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), a public limited liability company, was established as a bank holding company in 1985 under a private sector initiative spearheaded by the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry with the support of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In the early 1980’s foreign and state-owned banks dominated the banking industry in West Africa. Commercial banks in West Africa owned and managed by the African private sector were a rarity. Its founders created ETI with the objective of filling this vacuum.
The Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce promoted and initiated a project to create a private, regional banking institution in West Africa. In 1984, Ecopromotions S.A. was incorporated. Its founding shareholders raised seed capital for feasibility studies and the promotional activities leading to the creation of ETI.
In October 1985, ETI was incorporated with authorised capital of US$100 million. The initial paid up capital of US$32 million was raised from over 1,500 individuals and institutions from West African countries. The largest shareholder was the ECOWAS Fund for Cooperation, Compensation and Development (ECOWAS Fund), the development finance arm of ECOWAS