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Fenix reaches 500,000 customers in 6 markets, announces new leadership team

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Fenix International, a company of ENGIE, offering Solar Home Systems across Africa has appointed co-founder and current COO Brian Warshawsky to the role of CEO

KAMPALA, Uganda, July 19, 2019 – Brian Warshawsky, co-founder and current COO of Fenix to succeed the current CEO, Lyndsay Handler.

Jit Bhattacharya, CTO and Chris Bagnall, Group Marketing Director, step down from the company with successions plans in place. New CFO appointed and Head of Credit position established alongside new Chief Commercial Officer, Junior Zerebela Kwebiiha within executive team. 

Fenix International https://www.FenixIntl.com/ , a company of ENGIE, offering Solar Home Systems across Africa has appointed co-founder and current COO Brian Warshawsky to the role of CEO to drive the next phase of the company’s ambitious growth plans. Warshawsky is succeeding Lyndsay Handler who has been with the company for 7 years and served as CEO since 2016. Warshawsky is well-placed to lead the company, having previously spent 5 years at Apple as part of the iPod Operations team before co-founding Fenix International in 2009. Having worked as COO with Fenix from inception, Brian has a deep understanding of the business from product design to manufacturing, country operations, distribution and last-mile customer experience.

Ivan Topalov, who previously served as Corporate Finance Director has been promoted to Chief Financial Officer following the departure of the previous CFO, Josh Romisher, in June. The company has also appointed a new Head of Customer Credit, Alison Boess, reporting to the CEO.

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Yoven Moorooven, CEO of ENGIE Africa, said, “Brian is a highly regarded leader with the right mix of skills and experience to lead this new chapter for Fenix as we continue to establish ourselves as the market leader across Africa. With commercial operations in Uganda, Zambia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Benin and Mozambique, Fenix is growing from strength to strength. Under Brian’s leadership I’m incredibly excited for the future of our decentralized energy offering in Africa.” 

He continued, “I join everyone at ENGIE and the Fenix team in thanking Lyndsay, Jit and Chris for their many years of dedicated service and commitment to the Fenix Mission. Under their leadership, Fenix transformed millions of lives across the continent and built an inspiring team that is driven to succeed.” 

Brian Warshawsky, newly appointed CEO commented, “While it is difficult to say goodbye to such incredible colleagues and collaborators through so many years, I’m proud to be able to continue their legacy. On behalf of the Fenix team I would like to thank Jit for his technology leadership and the work he did to build Fenix Power, our next generation solar home system platform. I would like to thank Chris for his commercial and marketing leadership as Fenix grew from a few customers in Uganda to 500,000 customers across 6 countries in Africa. And I would like to especially thank Lyndsay for leading Fenix through so many milestones, most recently the ENGIE acquisition and establishing Fenix as the strongest off-grid solar home system company in the industry.”

He added, “Backed by a world class product, a world class team and with the full support of ENGIE, I am excited for what we will do to take our life changing product to customers across the continent. We are now set for an exciting future as we continue our expansion across Africa and achieving universal energy access for all.”

Lyndsay Handler added, “Building Fenix from 2011 to 2017 and accelerating our growth following the acquisition by ENGIE in 2018 has truly been an honour. Together, we have delivered clean, affordable energy to over 500,000 households or 2.5 million people in six countries across Africa. I am especially proud of the way we built a passionate Fenix team based in Africa who are deeply committed to our mission, values, and customers. Looking ahead, I am happy to pass the torch to our co-founder Brian and I am confident that the entire team will put the customer first in all that we do in Fenix’s next chapter. I hope that Fenix will continue to create new products and drive forward innovation so that clean energy is affordable to all at the last mile.”

Credit: Fenix International

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CEO Corner

African Bank Appoints Kennedy Bungane, CEO

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African Bank New CEO, Kennedy Bungane (Press Release & Image: African Bank)

African Bank (“Board”) announces the appointment of Mr. Kennedy Bungane as the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) and as an executive director of the Bank and its holding company, African Bank Holdings Limited (“ABH”) effective 14 April 2021. The Bank confirms that the appointment of Kennedy was done in accordance with African Bank’s policy on the selection and nomination of executive directors, and in order to fill a vacancy as well as add to the skillset on the Board.

Kennedy brings over 20 years of banking experience with him, having started his career at Standard Bank in 1991, holding a number of senior positions, including Head of Global Markets Sales, Head of Institutional and Corporate Banking, CEO Corporate and Investment Banking for Standard Bank South Africa, and a member of the Standard Bank Group Executive Committee. After joining Barclays Africa in 2012 as Chief Executive of Barclays Africa Limited and Head of Absa Group strategy, Kennedy led the sale of Barclays Africa Limited to the ABSA Group. More recently, Kennedy headed up the Phembani Group as its CEO. He also brings investment and strategic experience gained as the founder and chairman of Nokeng Telecoms and chairman of Idwala Capital.

Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, a Master of Business Administration, and completed the advanced management program at the Harvard Business School (USA).

Commenting on Kennedy’s appointment, the Chairman of the Board, Thabo Dloti, stated, “We welcome the appointment of Kennedy as the new permanent CEO. Kennedy has a keen sense for managing complex stakeholder issues. He has a proven track record in identifying and nurturing leadership, which promotes strong teams to deliver successful results. His passion for the role that banking can play in transforming society resonated strongly with the Board.

As an experienced banker, he also critically has a good grasp of the strategic challenges facing the Bank, within a muted South African economy and competitive landscape, as well as the required regulatory and governance framework.

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Investment

Platform Capital invests in USA-based innovative peer-to-peer financing platform SoLo Funds

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Platform Capital Chairman, Dr. Akintoye Akindele and Rodney Williams, Co-Founder of SoLo Funds Inc. (Image & Press Release: Platform Capital)

Platform Capital (“Platform”), a leading growth markets investor, is pleased to announce its investment in and partnership with SoLo Funds Inc. (“SoLo”), an innovative and proprietary peer-to-peer financing platform based in USA that has revolutionised the access to and supply of short-term funds for individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses.

Twenty-five percent of Americans are unbanked or underbanked, whilst 80% of American workers live paycheck to paycheck, and don’t have adequate savings to cover unforeseen expenses. In addition, implicit and explicit biases mean that women and people of colour are three times more likely to see their credit applications rejected. As a result, they are left with no other options, and fall prey to payday lenders, where a small loan can accrue over 400% APR, trapping them in a cycle of debt.

SoLo replaces payday lenders with a community-based, market-driven model for access to short-term funds for individuals. Through its community, individuals are able to access funds ranging from $50 to $1,000 for up to 2 weeks, that are delivered within hours through a simple and non-approval sign-up process powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The platform connects users directly and determines a SoLo score based on ability to repay, spending habits, payment frequency, behavioural data, and location-based data. There are no fees or compounding interest paid to SoLo or the member of the community providing the funds, avoiding the debt trap that is common in traditional short-term lending.

Since launch in 2018, the SoLo community has grown to over 300,000 users. The company has seen significant adoption of its model in states with large populations and high cost of living. Over the past 12 months, SoLo’s community has experienced more than 2,000% growth, introduced a new product feature “lender protection service” that safeguards the financed amount in case of a default, and has partnered with Kiva to enable access to funds for entrepreneurs and business owners ranging from $1,000 to $15,000.

SoLo Funds mission is to replace payday lenders with a community-based, market-driven model for individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses to access financing. The company has raised $10 million lead by international investors including ACME Capital, Impact America Fund, Techstars, Endeavor Catalyst, and CEAS Investments to further develop its technology, scale its team, and expand across the USA.

Dr. Akintoye Akindele, Chairman of Platform Capital, joins the Board as an observer & adviser.

Rodney Williams, Co-Founder of SoLo Funds Inc., said “We’re excited about our partnership with Platform Capital, we look forward to expanding our services into Africa. This partnership enables us to achieve our vision of being the number one access to funds provider for people and businesses in need. We believe that our platform will certainly impact and change conversation in Africa around how businesses and individuals can access funds.”

Dr. Akintoye Akindele, Chairman of Platform Capital, said: “We are proud to partner with SoLo Funds. Access to funds is a problem that affects millions of people globally. We believe that SoLo’s alternative approach to laccessing funds will impact millions of lives and position them as an innovative disruptor in the funding space. We look forward to working with SoLo Funds to scale their innovative solutions to positively impact people’s lives.”

 

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Hospitality & Tourism

Radisson Hotel Group announces its arrival at Victoria Falls, an UNESCO world heritage site

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Radisson Hotel Group (Image source: Saadiyah Hendricks)

Radisson Hotel Group is proud to announce its first resort and third hotel in Zambia, with the signing of Radisson Blu Resort Mosi-oa-Tunya, Livingstone, Zambia. Due to open by the end of 2022, this new addition places the Group firmly on track to achieving its objective of reaching 150 hotels in operation and under development in Africa by 2025.

Nestled on the banks of one of Africa’s longest rivers, the Zambezi, in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, 5km south of the historic city of Livingstone, just 4km north west of the Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world and an UNESCO world heritage site. Convenience is amplified with Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport located just 15 minutes away.

For an immersive experience of the destination, situated right next door, is Safari Par Excellence, offering unique on and off the river adventure activities, from Victoria Falls bridge activities, water-rafting, canoeing and game drives to helicopter rides, river cruises and elephant encounters.

The hotel will be constructed and operated with the greatest respect to its close proximity of the natural wonders and aims to obtain the EDGE green building certification as well sign the UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge, becoming a best practice in the implementation of Radisson Hotel Group’s leading Responsible Business program.

Image source: Saadiyah Hendricks

The construction of the new hotel which is currently underway, and the design fully integrate local materials and focuses on employing and upskilling local craftspeople. It will consist of a contemporary 174-room main hotel and 26 luxurious villas. Guests can indulge in their favourite cuisine at the all-day dining restaurant and sit back with their favourite drink at the coffee bar. To bask in the fresh African evening air in comfort, guests can gather around the outdoor boma and firepit. During their stay, guests can also enjoy the hotel’s expansive swimming pool, find serenity at the spa or maintain their health at the sports and fitness gym. Ideal for all occasions, the hotel’s meetings and events facilities will include a ballroom of over 500sqm, boardrooms as well as meeting rooms, perfect for leisure and business use.

Ramsay Rankoussi, Vice President Development, Africa & Turkey, Radisson Hotel Group, said: “We have been present in Zambia for many years and have long recognized the potential of the country. It was essential for us to complement our presence in Zambia with a resort offering in one of Africa’s most visited leisure tourism destinations – the Victoria Falls. This marks our third hotel in the country, complementing our existing portfolio of one hotel in operation, Radisson Blu Hotel, Lusaka, and the under-development Park Inn by Radisson Lusaka, Longacres, due to open early next year. Through this unique resort, we look forward to demonstrating our strong Responsible Business heritage and sustainable programmes and initiatives which will further promote the destination and ensure the preservation of this unique reserve and location. We are truly proud to have partnered with NAPSA for the launch of the Radisson Blu Resort Mosi-oa-Tunya, Livingstone as we further seek to reinforce our collaboration in promoting tourism across Zambia.”

Mr. Yollard Kachinda, Director General  of NAPSA, the owning company said: “It is an honour to be partnering with Radisson Hotel Group, a company that believes in thriving, sustainable, and responsible business that supports people, communities and the planet with various procedures and programs to build better futures. We are proud to be associated with the creation of several jobs, both directly and indirectly. It is also satisfying to note that most of the materials are locally sourced, such as steel coming from Kafue Steel, timber coming from Zambezi Sawmills and other materials such as quarry and stones also being sourced within the community. We are looking forward to introducing this unique resort to the market and are confident that the various sustainable elements of the hotel will uplift the community and enhance the overall experience of this beautiful destination and its economy.”

Image source: Saadiyah Hendricks

Radisson Hotel Group operates to high standards of performance and advocates socially and environmentally sustainable business practices. More than ever, Radisson Hotel Group’s highest priorities remain the health and safety of its guests and employees. The Group partnered with SGS, the world’s leading inspection and certification company, to implement the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, which ensures the highest hygiene standards and strengthens the Group’s existing rigorous sanitation guidelines. In the run-up to the opening of Radisson Blu Resort Mosi-oa-Tunya, Livingstone, Zambia will implement the Radisson Hotel Group brand standards including the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol related to safety and security.

 

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