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Fintech Lesaka retains Steven Heilbron to lead Connect Group

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 05 Jan 2023

Dual-listed fintech firm Lesaka Technologies has retained Steven Heilbron as chief executive officer of Connect Group.

Lesaka, which is listed on the NASDAQ and Johannesburg Stock Exchange, announced the move today, saying Heilbron’s role will transition towards a focus on group strategy, mergers and acquisitions, as well as special projects.

This comes after Lesaka took control of one of SA’s biggest fintech firms, Connect Group, in November for R3.7 billion.

Connect Group, founded in 2006, is one of the leading providers of fintech solutions in the country and services nearly 44 000 micro, small and medium enterprises in Southern Africa.

Heilbron has been the chief executive officer of the Connect Group since 2013 and joined Lesaka following the acquisition of Connect in the same capacity.

He has been credited for presiding over the significant organic growth in the rebranded Connect Group, as well as spearheading the successful acquisition and integration of Kazang - virtual vending products and services provider - into the Connect Group.

Connect Group is highly-profitable, with strong unit economics – marked by a historic three-year compound annual growth rate in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in excess of 40% for its fiscal 2021 year.

The company has become one of the jewels for Lesaka, Connect Group lifted the fintech firm in fiscal year 2022.

Today, Lesaka notified shareholders it had a new employment arrangement with Heilbron to continue leading Connect Group, for the period from January 1, 2023 to June 30, 2025.

Chris Meyer, Lesaka Group CEO, comments: “I am delighted that Steven will remain with us until at least June 30, 2025. Steven has been pivotal in growing Connect into a profitable, high-growth and leading South African fintech company, and integrating Connect into the Lesaka Group.

“Steven offers deep experience and knowledge in building businesses to scale in expanding markets, which supports Lesaka’s vision to bring financial inclusion to Consumers & Merchants in southern Africa. Steven's role will transition towards a focus on Group Strategy, M&A and Special Projects.

Heilbron has two decades of financial services experience, having spent 19 years working for Investec in South Africa and the UK, where he served as global head of private banking and joint chief executive officer of Investec Bank plc.

In 2023, he led a private consortium that acquired Cash Connect Management Solutions (Pty) Ltd and presided over the significant organic growth in the rebranded Connect Group.