Cellulant, an African digital payments service provider bagged $47.5 million from Rise Fund, an impact fund run by private equity group TPG Growth though details of the stake still unclear.
The investment is not only currently Africa’s largest in the fintech arena but also it is unique to Cellulant as the company is “for Africa, by Africans, in Africa” according to its mission statement.
“Across Africa, expanding easy-to-use and low cost mobile banking offers immense potential for impact and Cellulant is at the leading edge of that work,” said Bill McGlashan, CEO and co-founder of The Rise Fund in a press statement. “We’re excited to invest in African entrepreneurs like Ken and Bolaji to help them grow their businesses and expand their impact on society. Cellulant is a perfect partner for The Rise Fund’s first investment in Africa.”
The deal also included Endeavour Catalyst and Satya Capital, a private equity firm owned by Sudanese-British billionaire Mo Ibrahim who is also a founding partner of Rise Fund alongside renowned billionaires like: Pierre Omidyar, Laurene Powell Jobs, Lynne Benioff, Jeff Skoll and musician Bono to name a few.
“Cellulant occupies a unique position in the fintech ecosystem in Africa, with the potential to offer increased access, savings, and income to tens of millions of users across the continent,” said Yemi Lalude, Managing Partner for TPG in Africa. “As more and more smartphones come online across Africa, Cellulant makes it easy for customers to increase their incomes.”
Cellulant’s digital payments platform delivers connected, flexible payment options for consumers and businesses, and works with financial institutions, governments and mobile network operators to increase transparency and expand their reach in Africa. Building on a business model that first debuted in Kenya and Nigeria in 2004, the company has since expanded its services across 11 African markets, including: Zambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi, and Liberia.
“Payments in Africa are not a novelty. With two thirds of Africans unable to access a bank account, we believe that building a connected payments infrastructure is the foundation of solving real challenges and accelerating Africa’s growth and development. This investment from TPG Growth’s The Rise Fund will enable us to build a world class payments team that can unlock our next phase of growth. This involves not only entering new geographies across the continent, but also consolidating our presence in existing markets,” said Ken Njoroge, Cellulant co-founder and Group CEO.
This investment will also help scale existing Cellulant products, like Agrikore. Agrikore is a mobile blockchain-based platform that has served more than 7 million farmers across the continent, better connecting them to the market and helping them sell their goods to a diverse range of buyers more easily. It also expands access to government subsidy programs to help reduce costs for farmers, increase their yields, and raise incomes.
“With this new capital and as part of our scaling up strategy, we are leveraging on the growing mobile penetration trend in Africa to broaden our reach and extend our payments ecosystem across the continent. We are scaling up our existing payments products in the agriculture sector, digital banking and internet payments; as well as introducing consumer-focused products to complement the enterprise products we already have. This will allow us to increase access to payments for the millions of Africans who are still unbanked, despite the financial inclusion revolution,” added Bolaji Akinboro, Cellulant co-founder and CEO of Cellulant Nigeria.