Financial technology company Cellulant Co-founder & Co-CEO Ken Njoroge has been awarded the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
This effectively gets the company into the World Economic Forum Network
Njoroge received the honour bestowed each year by the World Economic Forum’s sister organisation, Schwab Foundation, to identify and recognise the world’s leading social entrepreneurs.
Cellulant has been 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 wherever they need them.
The company founded by Co-CEOs Ken Njoroge and Bolaji Akinboro offers the opportunity to create transformational growth within African economies. This is 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 per cent 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.”
Driving change, shifting systems
Njoroge 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.
Head of the Schwab Foundation, Dr François Bonnici, noted: “Social innovation has diffused into every sector and institution. The presence of pioneering agents of change re-inventing the way our institutions operate is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”
Bonnici added that the 2019 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.”
Financial inclusion growth in Africa
Akinboro said that only 43 per cent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa was estimated to be financially included by the end of 2018 despite the rate of financial inclusion growing over the last 10 years.
He revealed that only 10 per cent of all payments and transactions are based on technology, despite Africa having the highest level of mobile phone and internet penetration.
In partnership with the World Economic Forum, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship accelerates outstanding models of social innovation.
Cellulant joins 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.
Njoroge 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.
Connecting buyers, sellers and other critical stakeholders
Cellulant organizes Africa’s marketplaces by connecting buyers, sellers and other critical stakeholders through their payments solution. This enables the stakeholders to make and receive payments through Tingg and Agrikore.
Tingg is a digital commerce platform that connects consumers and business to payments and financial services. It facilitates payments across multiple channels providing an easy and cashless convenient payment solution for businesses and their customers.
Agrikore in the other hand is an online marketplace (e-marketplace) solution creating value for smallholder farmers, agricultural input and produce traders.
It was developed for Nigeria in 2012 but it has expanded to other African markets.
The blockchain-based smart contracting platform provides the tools for the creation of a structured agribusiness ecosystem in Africa.