6 min read

Cadana Is Building Modern Payroll for African Businesses and Workers

There’s a sizable opportunity to help more people gain easier access to credit and the banking system in Africa.

Founders Albert Owusu-Asare (left) and Ameer Shujjah.
Picture courtesy of Cadana

Tim Chae

Managing Partner

Published

14.09.21

Amit Bhatti, Principal at 500 Global, is a co-author.

Nobody likes waiting for payday, but it can be a particularly tedious affair in many parts of the world where payroll is often processed only once a month. Consider Ghana, for example, where most businesses pay monthly and frequently in a very manual fashion, with employers tracking payments on spreadsheets and doling out cash to employees. 

This process, common across many developing economies, can cause headaches for businesses and workforces alike. From the employer’s perspective, there’s lost time, fraud and security risks by keeping with the status-quo. In particular, it can leave employees vulnerable to cash flow issues that make unexpected expenses difficult to handle. This has helped spawn a booming short-term personal lending industry that often exposes people to predatory interest rates.

A startup we’re proud to support that’s tackling payday problems in Africa is Cadana, launched in 2020 and currently growing quickly in Ghana. When we met its founders Albert Owusu-Asare and Ameer Shujjah, we immediately saw a team capable of building a compelling product that could reshape the way businesses handle payroll in key African markets, while opening up new possibilities for fintech adoption. 

Akin to Gusto in the U.S., Cadana is building HR software that simplifies and automates payroll management for businesses and allows employees to access their earned wages on-demand through mobile money deposits. Its platform can save employers time and money and give employees flexible payment options (so no more waiting for the end of the month).

Not only is Cadana formalizing payroll processes, it’s also serving as a gateway to a broader ecosystem of financial products and services. By facilitating instant payments for workers, Cadana also has the ability to sit at the top of digital wallets and connect users to more value-added services, like saving accounts, investment products, insurance and more. 

It’s a good time to be building a platform offering those kinds of capabilities, as fintech is  flourishing in Africa and mobile banking is clearly becoming a preference for local consumers. There’s still a sizable opportunity to help more people gain easy access to credit and the banking system in Africa, as lack of data and trust are still barriers. However, Cadana’s centralized HR data can help overcome that obstacle and facilitate fast and fair credit decisions while offering lower interest rates.

At the moment, Cadana is focused on expanding its payroll technology in Ghana, where it’s already scaling with customers and on-boarding more SMEs to its platform. Early adopters include one of Ghana’s largest bus transportation companies and an international school with multiple campuses. Cadana is also currently preparing to launch in Nigeria and Kenya.

After seeing how quickly businesses in Ghana have adopted Cadana’s software, we’ve decided to increase our investment in the company. A big part of that is also due to our faith in its team, as Albert and Ameer are a sharp pair of founders with solid foundations and expertise in software and launching fintech products. 

Albert was previously a CTO at property tech startup Esusu, and before that he was a software engineer at Goldman Sachs working on the Apple Card launch and Marcus products. Ameer was a software engineer at Deutsche Bank and Audible. 

Both are highly motivated and capable founders, with their technical backgrounds enabling them to iterate and move quickly on the software side. Albert also has good connections with Ghana’s banking industry, giving them the insights and relationships needed to navigate local financial markets. 

The HR tech market doesn’t yet have any dominant players in Africa, but there’s plenty of competition in the short-term lending industry, which includes fintechs. Still, there’s plenty of room for new and innovative solutions to rise. By bringing together HR solutions and fintech options, Cadana is creating a potential winning combination. 

Albert and Ameer see their platform growing to become the de facto operating system for people’s finances in Africa. We believe in that vision and look forward to supporting Cadana’s founders on their journey. 

You can learn more about Cadana at https://www.cadanapay.com/

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Tim Chae

Managing Partner

Tim is a General Partner at 500 Global and manages 500's San Francisco-based global fund, investments, and accelerator program. Among his investments include Spoon, OP.GG, PeopleFund, More Labs, Rachio, Dano, and Famebit (acquired by Google). In 2016, he was named to the Forbes Asia's inaugural "30 Under 30" in Finance and Venture Capital. Continuing his career in VC, Tim became one of the youngest GPs at the age of 23 in 2015 with the closing of $15M South Korea-based fund, 500 Kimchi, L.P. Prior to 500, Tim founded several bootstrapped and venture-backed startups, including PostRocket which provided Facebook newsfeed optimization for brands and took part in Batch 3 of 500’s Seed Accelerator program. As an entrepreneur, Tim was named one of the top Youth Entrepreneurs in US by NFIB and McKelvey Foundation, and almost simultaneously, also became one of the youngest VCs at the age of 19, as an Associate at a seed-stage micro-VC firm in Boston.

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