From MTN to MFS Africa, the journey of Dare Okoudjou, the Beninese boss conquering the US

Few African start-ups handle to broaden exterior the continent. Even rarer are those who purchase an organization on the opposite facet of the Atlantic, but that is what Dare Okoudjou has simply managed to perform together with his firm, MFS Africa. This London-based Beninese entrepreneur has simply introduced the takeover of Global Technology Partners (GTP) – a 63-person firm based in 2013 by an American, Robert Merrick, and that’s based mostly in Tulsa, Oklahoma – for $34m.

GTP specialises in pay as you go financial institution playing cards, that are presently distributed to 500,000 customers in 34 nations on the continent, in line with the Financial Times. The Bialek-led firm already has 80 purchasers in Africa, within the banking (UBA, Ecobank, Stanbic, Zenith Bank, Coris Bank and NSIA), fintech (Chipper) and telecommunications sectors (Airtel).

Fourth acquisition

This shouldn’t be Okoudjou’s first acquisition. Founded in 2010, MFS Africa purchased its first firm in 2016. At that point, the supervisor was already seeking to broaden exterior the continent, as he purchased Sochitel, a British firm additionally current in New Jersey, Johannesburg, Accra and Douala, which gives worldwide telephone credit score top-ups and digital companies (invoice cost, vouchers, and so on.). After Uganda’s Beyonic in 2015 and Nigeria’s Baxi in 2021, which opened the doorways to the most important market in Africa, MFS concluded its fourth acquisition with GTP. This transaction ought to allow the corporate, its founder hopes, to broaden in North America.

Okoudjou’s background is simply as cosmopolitan as his firm. Born in Porto-Novo, he attended the capital’s Lycée Béhanzin earlier than shifting to Casablanca in 1995 for a yr of preparation to affix engineering colleges at Lycée Mohammed V. This establishment opened the doorways to France, the place he studied telecommunications at Télécom Paris between 1996 and 1999.

The son of a trainer father and nurse mom, he started his profession at PwC in Paris, the place he helped create one in all Maroc Telecom’s two opponents on the finish of the Nineteen Nineties, after which labored on creating the primary pay as you go cell service within the Moroccan kingdom.

In 2006, the self-described “over-optimist” joined MTN in Johannesburg. He then led a workforce in control of the MTN Momo cell cash service’s business technique. A yr later, he grew to become head of worldwide cell cash growth, a place he held for nearly two years earlier than leaving MTN to discovered MFS Africa.

400 million cell wallets

Since its creation, the fintech has raised $124m from a dozen worldwide buyers and the US funding advisory agency FT Partners, which additionally accompanied it because it acquired Beyonic and Baxi. The newest fundraising dates again to November 2021, when MFS Africa raised $100m (together with $30m in debt) from AfricInvest, Endeavor and Goodwell Investments.

Initially, a easy remittance service, the start-up has developed by acquisitions to give attention to safe worldwide switch merchandise for underbanked prospects and SMEs. MFS Africa now employs over 500 employees throughout seven places of work worldwide. The firm claims to have 400 million cell wallets in over 35 nations.

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