African payment provider Cellulant closes $47.5m Series C

The Rise Fund, a global impact investing fund managed by TPG Growth, has led a $47.5m Series C for African digital payment provider Cellulant.

The investment marks the fund’s first major commitment in the continent, investing alongside Endeavor Catalyst and Satya Capital in the deal.

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. It currently reaches 40 million people across 11 African countries.

Since debuting in Kenya and Nigeria in 2004, the company has expanded its services into Zambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi, and Liberia.

“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,” said Bill McGlashan, CEO and co-founder of The Rise Fund. “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.”

The company, which has previously raised capital from Velocity Capital Private Equity, Progression Capital Africa Limited, and TBL Mirror Fund, claims to offer the opportunity to create transformational growth for African economies by expanding financial inclusion on the continent.

It provides 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. The platform processes 12% of Africa’s digital payments with coverage of 50% of banks in Africa; catering to 10% of Africa’s banked population and providing an eWallet solution for 15% (17M) of the unbanked farmers in Africa.

“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 investment from TPG Growth’s The Rise Fund will enable us to build a world class payments team that can unlock our next phase of growth. This involves not only entering new geographies across the continent, but also consolidating our presence in existing markets,” said Ken Njoroge, Cellulant co-founder and Group CEO.

In January, The Rise Fund marked its first investment in the FinTech space by backing US-based Acorns. The company is a mobile-based micro investing app which automatically invests in to a low-cost diverse portfolio of exchange-traded funds, which are offered by firms including BlackRock and Vanguard.

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