As digital transformation continues to shift the way we think, live and do business, Fintech in Africa remains one of the fastest growing and innovating industries, capturing the imagination of both industry and consumers with topics like mobile banking being discussed across Africa
Companies in Fintech and other technology sectors led Private investment firm TPG, Endeavour Catalyst and Satya Capital latest investment round to secure more than half of the $108 million raised.
But a Fintech company in Africa made headlines for not only securing the largest investment round but setting a new record in the process, raising $47.5 million in the largest investment round ever for a FinTech that operates exclusively in Africa. The company is called Cellulant. Founded in 2004, Cellulant is an African digital payments company which operates in 11 African markets, including Zimbabwe. It essentially offers digital payments platforms and mobile banking services aimed at those who do not have a bank account.
We managed to interview Cellulant’s Country Manager For Zimbabwe, Angela Centra. Here is the interview;
Techzim (TZ): What is the planned use of $47.5million?
Angela Centra: We are consolidating our presence in existing markets as well as entering new geographies. We are also 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. With more than more than 700 million mobile users across Africa, we believe that building a connected payment infrastructure is the foundation of solving real challenges and accelerating Africa’s growth and development.
Techzim (TZ): What milestones are you hoping the financing will get you to?
Angela Centra: Our business has always been about people and building talent that can solve great challenges that are facing African consumers continent-wide. We are going to play a more catalytic role in improving the existing pool of talent in Africa’s tech sector. A lot of focus will go into building existing teams and helping them upskill as we address the greatest challenges in payments today across Africa. There are currently too many different payments solutions and there is a need to have a simple easy-to-use platform. We are at the forefront of leading this and with this financing, we will be able to accelerate the work we are doing in this area.
Techzim (TZ): Since you entered Zimbabwe, how has it been doing business here?
Angela Centra: Zimbabwe is a phenomenally exciting market for us, as the underlying infrastructure for mobile payments and commerce has been well adopted, mobile penetration is well over 97%, mobile money usage is high, and consumer service adoption for our various products such as mobile banking across several banks has been extremely good.
Techzim (TZ): What excites you about the Zimbabwean market?
Angela Centra: The people, the opportunities and the time spent in getting to learn how to adapt to the environment. The growth of Zimbabwe in the next few decades will see this market become an African powerhouse, and we are proud to have been able to build and sustain a growing business in what was a struggling economy.
Beyond what we have been able to offer to the market, we are also seeing opportunities where our products and solutions can provide a significant push for economic inclusion for all Zimbabweans. Agrikore, our agriculture value-chain platform has already registered significant success in Nigeria and whose success we would like to replicate in Zimbabwe. In line with the government’s push towards food Security, Agrikore is a blockchain technology that delivers greater accountability on inputs managements, the reduction in costs of transactions, and digital financial empowerment for rural communities. By Mapping value chains and digitizing them end to end, we are able to enhance efficiency in the distribution of inputs
Techzim (TZ): What are challenges are you currently facing in Zimbabwe?
Angela Centra: Like every business in Zimbabwe we all face the enormity of uncertainty with regards to the liquidity crisis and its impact on our consumers. The cost of living in Zimbabwe is at least 20% higher than Kenya for example, so this impacts what consumers can spend on. Even as we see growth in digital payments, we can also see a decline in certain spend areas.
How do you intend to overcome them?
Angela Centra: We are working on several solutions within the retail sector, and agriculture sector to find solutions that solve real problems facing consumers daily. One of these includes our mobile POS service targeted towards the informal sector and the other is Agrikore, Africa’s first block-chain solution targeted towards the agricultural sector.
What is your long-term objective for both Zimbabwe and elsewhere?
Angela Centra: 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 is what our mission is all about. Changing the status quo for millions of African consumers and offering them with payment services that are relevant to their everyday lives.