Africa’s most valuable startup, Flutterwave, is in the spotlight for alleged dubious business and personal practices by Olugbenga Agboola, its founder and chief executive.
Recently, Clara Wanjiku Odero, a Nairobi-based former executive at Flutterwave, posted an explosive article on Medium. Odero, who until 2018 held the title of head of implementation at the company, alleged that she had been bullied and harassed by the company’s current CEO, Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, that she’d had to fight to get paid after she left the company, and that the company’s “negligence” had led to her being investigated by the Kenyan police.
Several former and current employees of Flutterwave, have claimed that Odero’s allegations are recurring issues at the company rather than an isolated incident.
Employees alleged that the company encouraged a culture of impunity among senior executives which included bullying and inappropriate relationships between managers and staff. The company routinely underpaid departing employees for their stock options and basic administrative errors were made with company documentation which created serious legal problems for former staff.
The fintech company has repeatedly declined to address the allegations publicly but released a statement saying, “As an organization that continuously strives to create an environment where employees feel secure and safe, we take the recent allegations of bullying from a former employee very seriously. We categorically state that there is no place for bullying or harassment of any kind in our workplace. We have a zero-tolerance stance on bullying and a robust independent disciplinary committee and processes in place to stamp out abuse of any kind.”
Founded in Nigeria in 2016, Flutterwave facilitates cross-border transactions in multiple currencies for companies. It has processed transactions valued at more than $16 billion in dozens of African countries and has expanded beyond payments products to an online marketplace as well as lending to small businesses. It has more than tripled its valuation in less than a year to over $3 billion following its latest fund-raising.
Nigeria’s tech ecosystem is close-knit, and rumours of alleged mismanagement and misconduct at Flutterwave have spread widely through the community for the past few weeks. An acquisition deal being negotiated by Flutterwave and another start-up is hanging in the balance as a result of these reported allegations.
Workers in Nigeria’s lucrative tech sector have said they feel the sector is due a reckoning for its entrenched toxic practices. But it is clear that the companies and their investors, are not overly concerned.