There’s life after your first failed business

November 1, 2018

Ken Njoroge, the Co-Founder and group CEO of Cellulant (an African digital payment platform) knows a thing or two about failure. After a harrowing experience with his first business, he decided to turn an in-house project at his first company (3Mice interactive) into his second business by forming a partnership. This was 15 years ago, and the story thankfully has a happy ending. Having learnt from his experience at 3Mice the importance of being picky with partners, he applied that. He partnered with a Nigerian man he had met during a function. “Despite the fact that he was Nigerian, a pastor and in our first meeting he came in a cream suit, we got along well. We are mission aligned, share the same values and honestly, this partnership has been the most critical part of our success. He runs the business in Nigeria and I in Kenya” Ken said He started by offering ring tones to clients. This picked up and was doing well for around 4 years, until Safaricom, his main partner, decided to offer ringtones for free, hence cutting him out of his revenue share business model. His attempts at getting them back on the rev-share table did not bear fruit.
After my last failed meeting, I told my staff what happened and that I wouldn’t be able to pay them for around 5 months. Everyone except two people came back. Ken Njoroge
Being one to always bounce back, Ken ventured into mobile banking. He approached banks about his service but banks started picking it up after about one and a half years when M-PESA launched. “Within that 1 year, we became the largest mobile banking provider in Kenya. We are the largest payment business in the continent today.” Ken happily concludes. Ken Njoroge, Founder of Cellulant, was a guest at Founders drink up held in January 2018. Get access to the full podcast for only Kshs 250, email

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