How Cellulant plans to use Sh4.8 billion financing

NAIROBI, KENYA: The recent announcement of Sh4.8 billion deal by Kenya’s payment firm Cellulant left many people wondering how the company secured such kind of money in a region where capital is a challenge to many enterprises.

Cellulant founded in 2004 in Kenya operates in 11 countries across Africa and offers digital payments platforms and mobile banking services aimed at those who do not have a bank account.

Private investment firm TPG mid May announced that it has paid Sh4.8 billion to acquire an unspecified stake in Cellulant

In an interview with a local media, Kennedy Njoroge, the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cellulant said the journey of securing the financing began much earlier (15-years ago) with the laying of foundation and building a strong governance system making the business attractive.

“The financing is not an event but a journey which we started 15 years ago,” he says. “From day one of the business, I was able to separate my role as a manager and as the owner to come up with a strong governance system that defines the company.”

“This made the company more attractive and I was able to attract a pool of talented workers who dedicated most of their time to the business,” he adds

“The good governace system and the right talent made it easier for the investors to come in.”

He says the process of financing which saw Private investment firm TPG pays Sh4.8 billion to acquire Cellulant started from the foundation but the final leg was a 24-months journey where he went to 60 investors across the world and did 400 presentations and a lot of travels from South Africa, London to US

“Why we connected with the final investor is that they have experience in technology investment with very good track record globally,” he says adding that the team was interested in Cellulant because the company is in payment business and the firm has connections in different parts of Africa.

“Negations were tough because the investors wanted to get a good value so was our company but in the end we have got a good partnership on the table,” he adds.

He says the company intends to use part of the financing in consolidating its activities and expand into new territories.

 “What we intend to do is to invest in people to get much out of our existing customers that we have; we have realized that they have a lot of potential for our business and by investing in the right people we are going to unlock the potential,”

Besides the 11 African markets where Cellulant currently operates, it plans to get into Egypt, South Africa and Francophone countries in West Africa.

Cellulant, which was founded in 2004, offers digital payments platforms and mobile banking services aimed at those who do not have a bank account.

It started as a content business selling music but diverted into a payment solution following low income from the music venture.