Adumo CFO on growth and giving back

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Grant Manicom shares how his entrepreneurial outlook has led to career success.

Grant Manicom is the CFO of Adumo, the largest independent payments processer in South Africa. Adumo is currently on a consolidation drive, bringing together several leading fintech and payment solutions providers under one banner.

This line of work is ideally suited to Grant, who says that from the outset, he wanted to focus on entrepreneurship and saw a career in finance as a good way to do just that. “My father was a salesman and entrepreneur, and he was always interested in business growth,” he says. “My preference to work in businesses with an entrepreneurial flair was instilled in me from a very early age.”

Having worked in finance for several years, he has been part of management teams that have taken entrepreneurial companies and grew them into industry leaders

A deliberate focus on Growth
Since joining Adumo in 2018, Grant has been integral in closing a series of major acquisitions that have kept the company at the forefront of financial technology and industry innovation. Adumo is set up to provide small and medium enterprises with a financial services eco-system that enables integrated value-added financial and business services, allowing clients to get paid, simplify their payments environment, and grow their businesses.

“As you can imagine, establishing Adumo by integrating businesses that address real client needs is a challenge. We’re faced with multi-company cultures, along with technical differences. Many of the companies we’ve consolidated use different ERP, CRM and payroll systems and have different compensation structures. Aligning all these systems into one cohesive unit is complex, but offers a huge opportunity to unlock synergies and efficiencies across the group’s structure as we execute it successfully. Then, we will be an efficient business that can be even more attractive to international investors, or fit any other paths as we choose.”

Grant believes that any successful integration is the result of both people and systems. “Systems are crucial, because it’s difficult to get quality information out of businesses unless you have a reliable single system to capture that information in the first place. But people are extremely important too… Having the right people in the right places is essential, especially when your business is growing fast, and new roles and opportunities are being created all the time.”

Grant says Adumo’s growth requires a combination of dexterity and agility. “We have businesses that are very well-established and are cash-generating. But like any business, and especially a technology business, to remain relevant to our customers and the market in general we need to continually invest in new technology and innovation. We also need to find cutting-edge start-ups – these businesses typically consume a lot of cash in the early stages. So we need to closely manage how much shareholder capital we are prepared to inject into these ventures at the point of acquisition, and thereafter, in order to get them to generate substantial revenues and ultimately provide the solutions to our customers that will differentiate us from our competitors."

Along with revenue from their cash generative businesses, in 2021 Adumo secured R225 million ($15 million) in new funding from the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, to expand access to electronic payment solutions, especially for underserved small and medium-sized businesses. This is part of a focused drive to broaden financial inclusion as a way to precipitate growth.

Currently, Adumo exceeds a processing value of R120 billion per annum in formal markets across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and is represented in a further 10 sub-Saharan African countries in which their clients operate.

Delving into strategic projects
Grant loves the wide scope of opportunities that his role at Adumo affords him, and believes that there are a lot of exciting and interesting projects happening outside of any standard acquisitions. He says, “We’re currently working on increasing our shareholding in one of Adumo’s most exciting, and potentially huge, cash-generative acquisitions. We’re creating a funding structure with our banking partner, Investec, which requires a lot of work and is complicated, but it’s also very exciting.”

“Another strategic undertaking that the whole of adumo is excited about and is an active part of, is the creation of our new customer/market facing brand, ’adumo’, and aligning all the different company cultures and businesses under one unified umbrella with a singular vision. He explains that, “When we acquired these various businesses, they each had their own brands, yet many were providing very similar services, only to different market segments. So, we had businesses that were in the smaller / medium enterprise space, and some in the larger enterprise space, with very similar offerings. In order to present a unified solution to market, we decided to consolidate the brands, aligning everyone to a single strategic direction to launch our one, new adumo brand - adumo is who we are, here to grow your business.”

Life beyond work
Grant is passionate about giving back to communities. Over the past seven years, he has devoted much of his free time to an educational trust for underprivileged children at King Edward VII School, his alma mater.

As chairman of the Strenue Trust, he works with the trust to raise money from corporate sponsors and successfully funds underprivileged children in both the KES boarding school and day school. This extends to other schools in the area and to funding a number of students who are in tertiary education.

“I’m extremely passionate about development, especially that of people, and aim to add more value in years to come,” he says. He has had to step back, however, from his community engagements because of his demanding workload at the moment, but he plans to make time in future years to get back into this development area that he is so passionate about.

In addition, Grant is a family man, is married to Pippa and they have two sons – 15 and 13 years old. “Outside of work, I spend time with my family, we mountain bike together, which also helps me de-stress. I’m also a big fan of kite surfing – particularly when we’re in Cape Town. Recently, my eldest son has got into surfing, so we go surfing together in Cape Town whenever we can find the time and when the waves are good.

“We also try to get to the bush as often as possible,” he adds. “My youngest son, particularly, loves animals and we are fortunate enough to be able to visit Kruger National Park and other game reserves each year.”

Grant says, “I believe it’s important to continually invest in your professional and personal growth. Our purpose at Adumo is Growth: Growth of our Customers; Growth of our Communities; Growth of our Continent; and the Growth of our own People.”

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