Cellulant replaces top executives after C-Suite exodus

  • After mass layoffs and the departure of top executives from the company, Cellulant has announced replacements for its thin C-Suite.
  • One of Africa’s oldest fintech startups, Cellulant lost swathes of its staff and its CEO late last year.
  • The company has now replaced its chief tech officer, head of internal audit, VP of group finance, chief people officer and head of risk and compliance in one fell swoop.

Pan-African fintech based in Kenya, Cellulant has embarked on a wide-ranging upheaval of its executive team months after it laid off one-fifth of all its staff and its CEO quit. The company offers a payment platform to be integrated into other businesses, and is one of the oldest fintech startups the continent has to offer.

On Tuesday, the company announced that it had recruited a new chief technology officer, a new executive for risk and compliance, a new head of internal audit, a VP of group finance and a chief people officer, all at the same time.

In December 2023, the company quietly axed a swath of employees, in a third round of layoffs, and according to TechCabal, at least four “high-profile executives” also left the company that month. This was followed by the departure of CEO Akshay Grover not a month later.

Peter O’Tool assumed responsibility as acting CEO, and on Tuesday said he was “thrilled” to welcome the new crop of executives.

In the spot of chief technology officer, Cellulant has hired Andy O’Sullivan, who previously worked at companies like the Geidea Group, Network International and Telr. To oversee risk and compliance, the company has brought in Gbenga Haastrup, formerly of UMBA, ATB Financial, Interswitch, UBA and Standard Chartered Bank.

Irene Koki is now the company’s Head of Internal Audit, reporting directly to the board of directors. Cellulant says she has over 15 years of experience in risks and audit roles.

The new VP for Group Finance is Ochebhoya Ekpete, previously holding senior finance roles at Thames Water, Reading; Stripe, London; and Interswitch Nigeria, while Susan Fouche, who had worked at Visa and Barclays, is now the chief people officer.

“We are thrilled to welcome these new leaders to Cellulant,” enthused O’Toole.

“Their specific expertise in payments and financial services will play a vital role as we strengthen our capabilities in product growth, service delivery, operational efficiency, and risk management to better serve our ever-growing database of enterprise businesses across the world.”

“Our overarching objective is to establish Cellulant as a highly sustainable and profitable payments company,” he added.

It is seemingly a bad time to be a fintech startup in Africa. Even the golden geese of the past are struggling amid the global economic downturn. Cellulant joins other African tech firms in mass layoffs, including the likes of Chipper Cash, Wave, Sendy and Twiga.

Chipper Cash’s own layoffs and difficult operational conditions saw it close branches in the US and the UK, and refocus its operations entirely on the African continent.


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