Ken Njoroge, Co-founder & Co-CEO of Cellulant- Africa’s financial technology company was yesterday named the recipient of the 2019 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, an honour bestowed each year by the World Economic Forum’s sister organization, Schwab Foundation to identify and recognize the world’s leading social entrepreneurs.
The Schwab Foundation award is in recognition of Cellulant’s work in building digital payments and financial services that enable businesses and consumers in critical sectors such as Agriculture, Retail Distribution, Transport, Logistics and E-commerce to access services at the very point where they need them.
Founded by Co-CEOs Ken Njoroge and Bolaji Akinboro, Cellulant offers the opportunity to create transformational growth within 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. Cellulant is also helping farmers and small and medium-sized business owners expand their reach through improved financial services. More than 94% of Cellulant’s customer base was previously unbanked before they signed up.
“This award is a recognition of the innovative spirit of the communities that we serve, as they are the ones who constantly push us to find the best possible solutions to their everyday challenges. It is also a celebration of the great work that our teams at Cellulant have done over the last 15 years.” said Ken Njoroge, “As a business, we believe that return on investment is just as important as the measurable impact on the lives of fellow Africans. It is for this reason that we wake up every day to make sure that each individual and business across Africa, no matter their station in life, has access to services that empower them to achieve their aspirations”.
Ken further stated that broadening access to financial services is the key for enhancing household savings, mobilizing capital for investment, expanding the class of entrepreneurs, and enabling more people to invest in themselves and their families.
Dr François Bonnici, Head of the Schwab Foundation, noted: “There’s a growing recognition that social innovation has diffused into every sector and institution, and the presence of pioneering agents of change re-inventing the way our institutions operate is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The 2019 Schwab Foundation Awardees represent a new ecosystem of leaders who are driving change and shifting organizations and systems towards a more just, inclusive, sustainable future. Not only are they are demonstrating alternative models to serve, but they are also showing that mobilising and transforming society is possible using the levers of impact investing, social economy policies, 4IR technologies and social enterprise that aims for inclusion and equality. The Schwab Foundation Awardees serve as models for embedding this thinking and action into the work of all who aim to achieve the SDGs.”
Bolaji Akinboro, Co-CEO of Cellulant, commented: “Although the rate of financial inclusion has grown over the last 10 years, only 43 percent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa was estimated to be financially included by the end of 2018. Additionally, only 10% of all payments and transactions are based on technology, despite Africa having the highest level of mobile phone and internet penetration. This global recognition shall encourage all of us at Cellulant to continue striving to overcome these challenges by designing, developing and deploying cutting-edge innovations and business models”.
In partnership with the World Economic Forum, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is a leading global platform that accelerates outstanding models of social innovation. Founded in 1998 by Hilde and Klaus Schwab, The Foundation helps scale solutions to support millions of vulnerable and low-income people in need.
Ken, Bolaji and their team at Cellulant join the Schwab Foundation Community members – a global network of 350 outstanding companies from more than 70 countries worldwide who will be integrated into this year’s World Economic Forum meetings and initiatives. Ken shall be contributing actively to peer-to-peer exchanges with fellow social entrepreneurs and contribute his expertise to shape global, regional and industry agendas in close collaboration with other stakeholders of the World Economic Forum for a three-year period.