Surprise exit at Cellulant as CEO Akshay Grover resigns

by MMC
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Akshay Grover, who was appointed CEO of Cellulant Group, one of Africa’s largest payments companies, in July 2021, is stepping down this month to focus on personal matters.

Cellulant confirmed his departure in an email to TechCabal and said: “The company is committed to maintaining its momentum and continuing its growth trajectory. »

Peter O’Toole, the company’s chief financial officer, has been named interim CEO. According to company communications, new names will be added to its management team in the coming months.

Peter O’Toole. Image: TechCabale

Grover joined Cellulant in January 2021 as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). He was named interim CEO in May 2021 after Ken Njoroge, Cellulant’s longtime CEO and co-founder, resigned next to a financial misconduct crisis now resolved this also led to the resignation of the company’s co-founder, Bolaji Akinboro.

The cell has a rich history, and the story of how its co-founders scribbled the original idea for the company on a napkin in 2003 is now lore. With an initial investment of $3,000 from its co-founders, Cellulant began as a ringtone sales platform. Its business model quickly came under pressure after Safaricom, Kenya’s main telecommunications company, began offering the same music service to its customers for free.

Cellulant then abandoned its B2C model, connecting banks to the M-PESA payments ecosystem. It will then expand to Zambia, Ghana and Botswana by entering into payment partnerships with international partners such as StanChart.

Prior to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the company had 13 offices across the continent and had raised $1.5 million, $5.5 million and $47.5 million in three fundraising rounds. funding. In 2022, Cellulant was pursuing a $100 million Series D round, but the raise was put on hold.

Like most digital companies in Africa, Cellulant was also hit by a difficult business environment in 2023. In early 2023, it laid off 27 employees, and in August 2023, it laid off 27 employees. laid off 20% of its staff, consolidated certain roles and created new ones. These changes and adjustments were made for “simpler and more efficient operations,” according to a statement shared with TechCabal at the time.

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