Cellulant sets sights on continental expansion.

Author:Njoroge, Ken

Last year, pan-African digital payments platform Cellulant raised $47.5/77 in Series C funding. Its CEO says his mission is now to catapult the firm's valuation into the billions, as Tom Collins reports

In 2018, pan-African digital payments service provider Cellulant kicked off African tech's most successful year for funding by raising $47-5m from a consortium of investors led by Rise Fund, a global investment fund driven by California-based private equity firm TPG Capital.

Later that year South African fintech Jumo raised $64.5111, bringing startup funding across the continent to an annual record of $334,501-71.5% up from the year before, according to Disrupt Africa.

Speaking to African Business in Nairobi, Ken Njoroge, Cellulant co-founder and group CEO, sets his sights on continental expansion as he insists that the "pull effect" of the large fundraising--together with the company's fundamentals--paves the way for a bright future.

"What we are seeing is that the $47,501 had a tremendous pull effect into the ecosystem and into our business," he says. "When somebody raises that kind of money the cheques will only get bigger going forward. A whole load of serious emerging market investors in China, India and Southeast Asia are now looking at the continent. I'm certain that we will raise another the size of the last; maybe 10 times the size, maybe in 24 to 26 months. It basically gives us tremendous fuel to accelerate the growth of the business."

Huge market

Since scribbling Cellulant's business model on a napkin in 2002, Njoroge and Nigerian co-founder Bolaji Akinboro have overseen steady growth. Cellulant's digital payments ecosystem, Mula, which allows businesses and individuals to send and receive payments across any platform, connects 95 banks across 34 countries in Africa--providing access for a total of around 133m customers.

With 300m people currently having access to bank accounts across Africa, Njoroge says that Cellulant has scope to target millions more.

"The payments market is huge in Africa. In terms of value, we estimate it's anywhere between $25bn and $35bn. There is room for three to four billion-dollar businesses; a handful of hundred million-dollar businesses; and lots of ten to thirty million-dollar businesses."

Selling a 44% stake in the company last year at $47.5m brought Cellulant's valuation to approximately $100m. The Kenyan CEO says the mission now is to catapult the firm's valuation into the billions--a "unicorn"...

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