BY Abu Mubarik, 10:38am February 08, 2022,

How this Beninese started Africa’s largest digital payments network that recently raised $100M

Founder and CEO of MFS Africa Dare Okoudjou. Photo credit: MFS Africa/TechCrunch

Dare Okoudjou is an entrepreneur and founder of fintech startup MFS Africa, which has become Africa’s largest digital payments network. The startup connects senders, recipients, and service providers across Africa’s fast-growing mobile payments ecosystem.

According to Business Insider, MFS Africa connects to over 200 million mobile wallets in Africa with offices in South Africa, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Mauritius and London.

Okoudjuo started MFS Africa from his own experiences as an emigrant student and worker. Born in Benin, Okoudjuo grabbed a scholarship to study engineering and physics in Morocco and then continued to INSEAD business school in Paris to obtain an MBA.

He began his career as a management consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Paris. He also worked at MTN Group, where he developed their mobile payment strategy and led its implementation across MTN Operations in 21.

Throughout this period, he kept in touch with family and friends on the continent and as a result, he experienced first-hand the development of international telecoms networks.

“I was also first receiving and then sending money home. Why couldn’t sending money home to family and friends and making payments to international businesses be as easy,” he quizzed? “I started MFS Africa because I wanted to find a way for people to send money as seamlessly as they could make a phone call,” he told Business Insider.

In 2010, he launched MFS Africa, and today, the company operates in over 35 countries, with more than 80 partners connected and over 200 million mobile money recipients covered. In 2014, Okoudjuo turned down an opportunity to be acquired by another company looking to enter the market.

“This acquisition promised a much needed (a true understatement) cash infusion to support the future growth of the company and would have positioned our story for global reach. It was a great opportunity on paper,” he told How We Made It In Africa.

Nonetheless, Okoudjuo felt it was not appropriate for the direction of the company at the time. He made the decision with just less than two weeks’ worth of cash left in the company’s account.

“The two weeks following the decision required a lot of determination, as we urgently needed to secure additional funding from a different source,” he said. “Among other things, this situation, however, led to our partnership with Vodafone – a great moment for us and something I am proud of to this day. This partnership helped to raise our profile, our credibility, and massively accelerated the growth of the company.”

MFS Africa was among the top 20 African startups that raised the most funds last year. It made history with a $4.5m Chinese-led deal. A China-based VC firm LUN Partners Group led a $4.5-million Series B funding round in which the VC invested $2.5-million in MFS Africa, Ventureburn reported.

It added that MFS Africa had previously raised just under $10 million from angel investors and family offices in South Africa before the Series B funding round. Safika Holdings, one of MFS Africa’s biggest investors, also participated in an earlier funding round.

In November 2021, TechCrunch also reported that MFS Africa has raised $100 million in Series C financing — split between $70 million equity and $30 million debt. It said private equity fund AfricInvest FIVE co-led the Series C round with existing investors Goodwell Investments and LUN Partners Group.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 8, 2022

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