The Rise Fund, a global impact investing fund managed by growth equity platform TPG Growth, yesterday announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire a stake in Cellulant, one of the leading digital payments provider that reaches 40 million people across 11 African countries.
The Rise Fund is investing alongside Endeavor Catalyst and Satya Capital.
The deal was described as the largest of its kind dedicated solely to Africa’s fintech and payments space, competitively positioning Cellulant in a fast-growing sector where it already enjoys an early mover advantage.
“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,” the CEO and co-founder of The Rise Fund, Bill McGlashan said.
McGlashan added: “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.”
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.
“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,” the Managing Partner for TPG in Africa,Yemi Lalude explained.
“As more and more smartphones come online across Africa, Cellulant makes it easy for customers to increase their incomes.”
A statement explained that Cellulant offers the opportunity to create transformational growth for African economies by expanding financial inclusion on a continent where nearly two-thirds of the population do not have a bank account.
This includes easy-to-access digital payment solutions, interoperable financial services, and mobile banking solutions that can help the unbanked open accounts, cut fees, and save for the future, as well as helping farmers and small and medium sized business owners expand their reach through improved financial services.
More than 94 per cent of Cellulant’s customer base was previously unbanked before they signed up.
“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,” Cellulant co-founder and CEO of Cellulant Nigeria, Bolaji Akinboro added.
“We’re thrilled to have Endeavor Catalyst joining this round for Cellulant,” the CEO of Endeavor, Linda Rottenberg said.
“With Cellulant, Ken, Bolaji and team are building a great example of something we hope to see much more of in the years ahead: true ‘scale-ups’ in Africa!”