After two years of litigation, pan-African fintech company Cellulant said it has arrived at a mediated out-of-court settlement with its co-founder, ex-co-CEO, and former head of its Nigerian operations, Bolaji Akinboro. Akinboro has been cleared of all allegations of financial misconduct and personal improprieties laid against him two years ago.
Akinboro, who founded Cellulant with Ken Njoroge in 2004, was forced to resign in August 2020 following an allegation of misconduct at Agrikore, a blockchain-powered agritech subsidiary he headed, which also led to the dismissal of 48 employees.
Cellulant had claimed in a statement that the relieved employees illegally received funds from Agrikore wallets, an allegation that Akinoboro and many of the affected staff denied and then sought redress in court.
This year has been filled with lots of jarring revelations across the African startup ecosystem. From many accounts of horrible work culture to financial improprieties, to money laundering allegations, we haven’t seen this volume of revelation before. However, this whole debacle, in a sense, signals maturity. The ecosystem is growing and so a lot of purging must be done to retain balance. Where there’s a cash flush, there are likely going to be bad players wanting to game the system and solid corporate governance is needed to checkmate them.
Earlier this year, Bento’s board announced that the company’s co-founder and CEO, Ebun Okubanjo, would stop handling people affairs in the company after a TechCabal expose revealed how Okubanjo has built a toxic work culture in the business. Recent investigation findings of sexual improprieties also led Risevest’s co-founder and CEO to step down into an advisory role. On Thursday, a Weetracker investigative piece reported Olumide Olusanya, a 3 time founder and CEO of Kloud Commerce, to be facing recompense from investors after sabotaging the startup with a series of financial malpractices.
Given that most of these allegations we’ve seen this year alone have been either proven to be true or passed without refute, seeing at least one be admittedly declared wrong by the accusing party, and the accused publicly exonerated, is a good development.
“I acknowledge and commend the courage demonstrated by the Board of Cellulant in publicly setting the record straight on all questions and aspersions that have arisen in the past two years regarding my exit from Cellulant, and putting to rest any notion of wrongdoings from my part,” said Akinboro.
Due to unstable government policies, fluctuating foreign exchange, and relatively low purchasing power, Africa is already a seemingly tricky floor for foreign investors to waltz. Adding amateurish and undisciplined founders to the mix would hurt the ecosystem badly. Entrepreneurs are builders and the continent needs its builders now more than ever to be a viable contributor to global development.