KENYA: Cellulant starts expansion to SA

Cellulant Ltd., a Kenyan payment-services provider, is starting a South African business after months of testing the market and is looking to wrap up fundraising for further expansion to the Middle East and the UK.

The two-decade-old company is looking to tap into South Africa’s mature retail ecosystem, Chief Business Officer Sike Bamisebi said in an interview, with the United Arab Emirates and the UK set to follow in the next two years.

Cellulant is about to close its latest fundraising round, she said. While the company hasn’t disclosed the likely amount, it has previously indicated it could raise as much as $100 million.

“We provide a valuable proposition in South Africa. We work with premium merchants and we give them access to these markets,” Bamisebi said at the Africa Tech Summit in London.

“These new markets fall in line with our strategy to prioritize the top markets.”

Payment-technology companies have been at the forefront of an unprecedented boom in investment in African startups, which hit a record $5 billion in 2021.

Businesses such as Flutterwave Inc. in Nigeria are tapping into rising demand for e-commerce on the continent, fuelled by better connectivity and a lack of traditional banks.

Cellulant’s backers include TPG Growth’s The Rise Fund, which led a $47.5 million round in 2018. The company operates in 18 countries and serves 35 others.

TPG-Backed Cellulant Considers Nasdaq Listing in Two Years.

The company enables businesses to collect payments online and offline from mobile money, cards or banks. Its clients include airlines, banks, fintechs and fast-food chains including Burger King.

Investment into the startup space has cooled down globally, including in Africa after a record $5 billion of investment in 2021.

Data from deal aggregation, Briter Bridges, shows the total amount of money raised this year is likely to match the previous year.