Aboyeji, addresses concerns raised about things that happened while he was CEO of the payment giant.
Former CEO of Africa’s most valuable startup, Flutterwave, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, has responded to the recent allegations of fraud and insider trading leveled against the company’s management and current CEO and co-founder, Olugbenga Agboola. The accusations were laid out in an article by David Hundeyin, and a Medium post by Clara Wanjiku.
While both Wanjiku and Hundeyin’s articles raised essential questions about the culture, ethics, and governance at Flutterwave, Aboyeji claims no privileged insight into the company after his time there. He however addressed concerns raised about things that happened while he was CEO of the payment giant. One of the many actions Agboola was accused of was creating a ghost “co-founder” identity, who went by the name Greg, to give himself more shares, in the company’s early days.
To this, Aboyeji told TechCabal that the agreement between the co-founders was that Agboola would hold some shares in trust for the fictitious Greg. “When I joined the company, I was told there’s a chief technology officer named Greg from MIT, whom I’d meet someday. It never happened,” Aboyeji said. “After a while, it became clear what had happened. By that time it didn’t matter. We [Aboyeji and third co-founder, Adeleke Adekoya] had already signed agreements, and I decided to just move on.”
On Wednesday, April 13, Aboyeji had put out a series of tweets, aimed at distancing himself from any involvement in the allegations leveled at Agboola and Flutterwave. He said, in one of them, that some of the allegations made could prevent him from being a company director, and thus affect his livelihood. He also said that Hundeyin, the article’s author, didn’t reach out to him for comment.
The article alleged that Agboola did not resign from his job as Head of Digital Factory and Innovation at Access Bank before working at Flutterwave. It said Aboyeji had been a co-conspirator who had testified, alongside Agboola and Access Bank CEO, Herbert Wigwe, before the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), under oath, that Agboola never worked simultaneously at Flutterwave and Access Bank.
Aboyeji’s time as CEO launched in 2016 as a Nigerian and US-based payments company, with offices in Lagos and San Francisco, Flutterwave was co-founded by Agboola, Adekoya, and Aboyeji, who had earlier co-founded Andela.
TechCabal obtained a copy of Flutterwave’s US certificate of incorporation, prepared by Aboyeji on May 2, 2016. Flutterwave started when Aboyeji met the other co-founders Agboola and Adekoya while still at Andela. Access Bank had hired an engineer from Andela to work on a product that later turned out to be PayWithCapture. This mobile payment solution permitted customers to make payments by scanning a merchant’s pre-generated QR code using their phone cameras.
After a series of conversations about the African payment landscape, Aboyeji, Agboola, and Adekoya teamed up to start Flutterwave, to solve the challenges with African payment. Agboola and Adekoya had the ideas; Agboola came on board to execute them.
In the early days of Flutterwave, the co-founders were still working at their previous jobs. Aboyeji explained that although the trio had agreed to a transition timeline towards working on Flutterwave full-time, there were challenges with adhering to that timeline. Flutterwave investors were made aware that Agboola and Adekoya had transitioned from working for the bank to consulting for the bank through an investor update.
“My co-founders informed me that they’ve resigned from Access Bank, but they had to give some notice to the bank, and since they were handling sensitive positions at Access Bank, what ended up happening was they became consultants to Africa Fintech Foundry,” Aboyeji said. Africa Fintech Foundry is an initiative by Access Bank that nurtures and accelerates the growth of fintech startups in Africa.
Aboyeji described the relationship between Access Bank and Flutterwave as a mutually beneficial one. Access Bank was the budding fintech’s banking partner and Flutterwave helped introduce the bank to its Silicon Valley network. He also disclosed that, early on, when the company started, there were ongoing conversations with Access Bank to invest in Flutterwave, but due to Nigerian banking regulations that prohibited banks from getting involved in non-banking activities, the deal couldn’t happen.
“The foundation of Flutterwave was a result of the collaboration between a bank and the local tech ecosystem. I think that’s an incredible learning opportunity,” Aboyeji said. TechCabal has reached out to Access Bank to comment on their relationship with Flutterwave’s founders but hasn’t gotten a response as of press time.