Ken Njoroge CEO of Cellulant
Ken Njoroge, founder and co- CEO of Cellulant. He says award is a recognition of the innovative spirit of the communities that we serve. [ Photo / Business Today ]

Ken Njoroge, co-founder & co-CEO of Cellulant, Africa’s leading financial technology company was on 23rd September 2019 named the 2019 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

The honour is bestowed each year by the World Economic Forum’s sister organization, Schwab Foundation, to recognize the world’s leading social entrepreneurs.

The Schwab Foundation rewarded Cellulant’s work in 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 at the very point they need them.

Founded by Co-CEOs Ken Njoroge and Bolaji Akinboro, Cellulant offers the opportunity to create transformational growth within African economies by expanding financial inclusion on a continent where nearly two-thirds of the people do not have bank accounts. 

 “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,” said Mr Njoroge.

The solutions include 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% of Cellulant’s customer base was previously unbanked before they signed up.

Access to financial services

 “As a business, we believe that return on investment is just as important as the measurable impact on the lives of fellow Africans,” Njoroge said.

He said broadening access to financial services is to enhancing household savings, mobilizing capital for investment, expanding the class of entrepreneurs, and enabling more people to invest in themselves and their families.

 Dr François Bonnici, Head of the Schwab Foundation, said social innovation has diffused into every sector and critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Impact investing

The 2019 Schwab Foundation Awardees represent a new ecosystem of leaders who are driving change and shifting organizations and systems towards a more just, inclusive, sustainable future, he added.

“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.”

Bolaji Akinboro, Co-CEO of Cellulant, said although the rate of financial inclusion has grown over the last 10 years, only 43% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa was estimated to be financially included by the end of 2018.

“Additionally, only 10% of all payments and transactions are based on technology, despite Africa having the highest level of mobile phone and internet penetration,” he said.

Ken, Bolaji and their team at Cellulant join the Schwab Foundation Community members – 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.

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