Thursday 8 October 2020. Abuja, Nigeria.
Over the last few weeks, much has been reported about the challenges Thrive Agric has had throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and how these challenges have, unfortunately, adversely affected some of their crowdfund subscribers. However, what might not be so apparent is the work being done behind the scenes, to rectify and repair the situation, by ensuring subscribers are repaid in a timely manner.
Thrive Agric is one of Ventures Platforms’ portfolio companies; we invested in the agritech start-up in 2017. As early-stage investors, we take our role in how our portfolio companies operate and their overall corporate governance, very seriously. Once alerted to the fact the company was facing some operational challenges, Ventures Platforms’ experienced senior management team and hired consultants intervened, working with the Thrive Agric founders to put in place deliberate and swift actions, to not only ensure repayment of investments to subscribers but also to realign the business for the long term.
Together, with Thrive Agric, we identified that one of the core issues was around sub-optimal communication between the company, its subscribers and additional stakeholders.
Working with the Thrive Agric Team, Ventures Platform has overseen the improvement of communication through the following:
- Communication to subscribers via email, with a more complete explanation of how COVID-19 impacted farming operations with an expectation of repayment horizon
- The commencement of active communications with concerned subscribers, via Zoom calls
- The release of a robust FAQ online via Twitter which addresses many of their subscribers’ and stakeholders’ key concerns
We are sufficiently happy with this important first step, and expect a more open and transparent line of communication between Thrive Agric and interested parties, in the coming weeks and months.
Additionally, Ventures Platform has also taken some important strategic steps with the Thrive Agric management team, including:
- Engaging actively with the founders to develop and implement a step-by-step plan to get the company back on track;
- The ordering of a thorough review of the company’s financial and non-financial operations to fully understand the scale of the problem;
- Supporting the company in strengthening their senior leadership such that they can frontally deal with these issues. The Thrive Agric team will communicate more on this very soon; and
- Providing bridge debt to help liquidate some of the outstanding to subscribers.
The actions we have taken alongside the Thrive Agric team, in this short period, are already yielding some small successes; but we know there is a lot more to do.
Whilst a lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to deliver these results, we are fully aware that the hard work starts here – and we will continue to push the entire Thrive Agric team, to return investments to subscribers, and rebuild the trust that has been lost in what has been an extremely challenging year.