Let’s take advantage of COVID-19 to grow our unicorns – CBG MD

Photo: Daniel Addo, MD, CBG

The Chief Executive Officer of Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG), Daniel Addo, has said that advent of the ‘new normal’ has presented vast opportunities to the fintech space and the time is ripe for the nation to produce its first unicorn – a term used in the venture capital industry to describe a privately-held startup company with a value of over US$1billion.

According to him, there are funds available locally and globally to support the fintech industry; but one can only benefit with a strong business proposal or model that can stand the test of time.

Speaking in an interview with the B&FT ahead of the latest edition of Ghana’s Most Respected CEOs (GMRCEOs) breakfast series slated for today, Mr.  Addo said: “Some of our sister countries in East Africa and across the border in Nigeria are seeing some fintech companies doing some wonderful things there. The strength of their proposals and business models is what allows private sector investors to come in. In some cases, banks give support; and some Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) also come in.

“Take the example of Flutterwave in Nigeria, which is now called a fintech unicorn because it has a valuation in excess of US$1billion – but it is entirely homegrown. I am looking to seeing our first unicorn in Ghana.”

Delving further into the opportunities for growth in the fintech space, Mr. Addo stressed that Ghana truly stands in the best position to lead the fintech revolution…more so than any other country. He pointed out a couple of moves by global tech giants to underscore his argument.

In 2019, Google opened its first Africa Artificial Intelligence lab in Ghana. This is Google’s first lab in Africa solely dedicated to AI research. Google established this centre to meet the increasing interest in machine learning across Africa. Two years on, Twitter has officially announced its decision to base its African headquarters in Ghana. The social media company is already looking to fill 12 positions in the West African country, but will hold-off opening a physical office until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

“These happenings and more are offering the Ghanaian fintech space opportunity to leapfrog and escalate their service to the world,” Mr. Addo believes.

For him, the nation seems to be in an exciting place for fintech providers, in general, to thrive as: “In a lot of cases, you will find that there are private equity investors, venture capital and angel investors who have actually started the process and are providing the risk capital to grow the businesses – at least from the start-up stage – and the banks will come in to support.”

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