Edwin Dande, 44, is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cytonn Investments. This is an alternative investment management and real estate company whose investment solutions are based on four major products: real estate, structured solutions, private equity and advisory. In less than a decade, the firm seemed to be doing so well that of the 10 money markets in the country, it provided some of the best yields for clients and was ranked number two. It also controlled assets amounting to Ksh1 billion as of September 2020.
Before co-founding Cytonn, he was the CEO of a blue chip company and when he left to form his own company it caused bitter blood with his former employer. However, since last year the company has been involved in a tough feud with some of its investors. The firm even sued one of the investors for defamation and is under the scrutiny from the Capital Markets Authority.
“I want to be remembered for having been part of a team that built a stable, trusted and number one brand in the industries in which we compete. Currently, these are investments, real estate, education and hospitality,” Dande once said and it remains to be seen whether he would fulfill his words following the recent scrutiny the firm is facing.
An accountant and investment banker by profession, he holds a Bachelor Degree in Accounting from Monmouth University and an MBA, Finance major from the Wharton School University of Pennsylvania. He is also a Certified Public Accountant.
He began his career in wall street firms, like Lehman Brothers and Bank of America before returning back to Kenya.
In 2011, he became the CEO of Britam asset managers, a subsidiary company of Britam Holdings , a public listed insurance and financial services firm in Kenya.
In 2014, he controversially left Britam asset managers alongside three other employees in order to form Cytonn Investments.
“When we started out our former employer accused us of theft. You know that brings a cloud over your brand,” he once said.
The three that left Britam to form Cytonn Investments alongside him are: Elizabeth Nkuku, Patricia Wanjama and Shiv Arora. Shiv later left the firm in an amicable agreement according to the CEO.
Dande’s acumen has enabled him to raise more than Ksh10 billion from local investors without borrowing from banks to fund real estate, something he believes most banks aren’t happy with.
According to Dande, the decision to form Cytonn was born out of a desire to fill the gap which was the lack of high yielding investment products for savers and investors. In a span of five years, the company was breaking boundaries and becoming a leading alternative investment firm with so many people trusting in the safety of their investments. However, in 2020, highly publicized wars with investors began marring the firm’s reputation.
In 2020, Cytonn had major problems with the investors. This has seen some heading to the courts with several complaints being raised to the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigation.
Currently, the CMA is investigating some funds managed by Cytonn for criminal violation.
Cytonn is facing at least 25 count cases -including liquidation- by investors irked by the extension of maturity dates last year after the firm invoked a force majeure citing the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to reports, Cytonn has two faces, the regulated and unregulated. According to CMA, complaints have been received from the unregulated face only. CMA said they were forced to come out after a lot of inquiries on the licensing status of Cytonn Investment Group.