At the beginning of the year, I announced my transition from the CEO position at Cellulant in the Jumping Off The Lion article. Admittedly, nothing could have prepared me for the range of reactions the article garnered. I was especially surprised by how the Lion analogy caught on. People interpreted it differently. Since then, I’ve heard people refer to me as a ‘Lion’ in some cases and ‘Lion-rider’ in others. More commonly, people asked, “What are you planning to do next?” and “What would make you rethink this decision?”. A lot more asked, “Is Cellulant going to be okay?”. These questions have sparked interesting conversations with customers, our teams and other interested people who have been keen to understand what next for Cellulant and what next for me. I will speak more about the Lion-Rider in a later piece and commit this one to the Lion- Cellulant.
Since January, my management team and I 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.
A Season of Renewal
Throughout 2020 and 2021, the world has experienced massive disruption due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Amidst all this, the African market has undergone a period of accelerated digitization which has sped up the demand for technology by about 8 years. All kinds of industries have gone digital, and now more than ever, money moves in the air.
Standing on the cusp of this revolution has ushered Cellulant into a period of renewal- a phase of rebirth.
Over 18 years, we have built strong roots in our 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.
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.
The future requires us to create a wider reach for our pan-African and global customers. As such, we are 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.
We have also simplified our product, unifying our offering into Tingg- a digital payments platform enabling business across Africa. This innovation is built on a new technology platform leveraging cloud computing and data science to offer greater capacity and quality service to our customers.
This 3.0 journey is led by a leadership team whose diverse profile spans gender, nationality, and background. The team features a blend of Cellulant-grown talent and a new generation of leaders, ensuring that our core mission, values and ethos will remain entrenched, while refined by new perspectives. Their hunger for growth, eye for opportunity and focus on execution sets them up for exceptional outcomes.
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.
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.
What We’ve Built
I am proud of Cellulant as a business and as my life’s work. It is a business that has shown incredible resilience, stood for integrity and adapted through major pivots, all while remaining uncompromising about quality and delivery. For that reason, it is a business I trust.
This transition is a natural inflection point in the journey. If there was a point of arrival, this would be it- the truth is, there never is. In fleeting moments I ask myself if we could have been bigger, better, further at this point. However, I’ve learnt to admire the flowers along the pathway rather than wait for a final bouquet.
This point, ladies and gentlemen, is where I jump off.
Co-founder, Lion-Rider, Cellulant-er for life.