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Cellulant Hires Acting CEO | Eyes North Africa Launch With Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria as First Stop

Cellulant has hired Akshay Grover as the Acting-CEO effective May as Ken Njoroge, the co-founder and CEO transitions from his position to take up new roles at the board level.

Grover has over 15 years of experience focused on the TMT across the EMEA and Asia region and hopes to disrupt more mainstream business’ on the continent at Cellulant. Before Cellulant he worked at ISON which covered Asia, ME, Africa, and worked closely with the founders of the ISON tech investment portfolio to expand and grow their business and saw the profitable exit for its PE investors. ISON has approximately $600m in capital commitments.

According to Ken Njoroge, co-founder and outgoing CEO Cellulant, “I’m particularly excited about Akshay Grover, who takes over from me as the Acting-CEO effective May. I first met Akshay in March 2020 and resonated greatly with his energy and knowledge of the African market. Eventually, he joined the management team in January 2021. Since then, he has shown incredible leadership and has been instrumental in working with different teams to refine our growth strategy, finance and to optimise operations across Africa.”

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Njoroge, who, at the beginning of the year announced his transition from the CEO position at Cellulant says since January, he and the management team have spent time drawing out the foundational plans that will guide growth over the next few years and building momentum in those areas. This has been a period to co-create and colour in the picture of Cellulant’s future.

“We have drawn inspiration from revisioning and recommitting to our mission of building world-class payment experiences for Africa’s mobile generation,” Njoroge said. “This season also brings newness for me. I’m looking forward to working and seeing things solely from the lens of a Board member, which puts me on the favourable side of pressure.

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Njoroge, the board and the management team are sure that Grover’s leadership experiences are a great fit for the CEO position. At ISON, Grover worked with a wide spectrum of principals such as seed and early-stage investors, Private Equity, LP’s, DFI’s, Banks, Corporates and Industrial groups across a large region.

Prior to ISON, he spent a decade at EY’s TMT investment banking team and Dubai Holdings TMT investment arm – EITL where he drove M&A in excess of USD 5bn – both domestic and cross border and held numerous Observer positions on the Board of Dubai Holding’s investee companies.

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His appointment also comes at a crucial time as Cellulant is in the process of launching services in new markets such as Ethiopia, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Morocco, DRC, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mali, South Sudan, Algeria, Tunisia, and Guinea.

The firm has also simplified its product, unifying its offering into Tingg– a digital payments platform enabling business across Africa. Tingg is built on a new technology platform leveraging cloud computing and data science to offer greater capacity and quality service to our customers.

Dubbed Cellulant 3.0, the firm’s 18-year-old journey has not been easy, with its platform Agrikore being the worst hit but it has built strong roots in its teams, products and markets that have anchored the business through its phases of growth.

“We are now beginning to see our unlit potential chart paths into new territories, with new products with more reach and impact. The way I see it if the inception phase as a music business was Cellulant 1.0, and the pivot to digital banking was 2.0 – we are now entering Cellulant 3.0,” Njoroge added. “We began this new phase by refreshing our commitment to our teams and promise to our customers. This clarity has seen us restructure teams, refresh our brand and refine the granular aspects of our strategy.”

Reaching over 40 million people across 11 African countries, Cellulant raised over $47.5m from the Rise Fund and Endeavor Catalyst and Satya Capital to broaden its reach and extend its payments ecosystem across the continent. This 3.0 strategy fits into its partners’ dreams. Other Cellulant investors include Velocity Capital Private Equity, Progression Capital Africa Limited and TBL Mirror Fund.

“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. We’re excited to invest in African entrepreneurs like Ken 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,” said Bill McGlashan, CEO and co-founder of The Rise Fund during the raise.

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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakoba
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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