Flutterwave responds as CEO faces allegations of bullying by former employee – TechCrunch

On Monday, Clara Wanjiku Odero, a former employee of African payments giant and unicorn Flutterwave, accused the company’s chief executive, Olugbenga’ GB’ Agboola, of bullying and harassing her for years. She made the allegations in a Medium post and series of tweets that came after.

In the blog post, Odero shared how a series of undescribed events prompted her to quit her job as Head of Implementation (Rest of Africa) in 2018, and when the time came to settle her, she claimed the company refused to do so to do .

However, when she threatened to sue the company, which she says led to various employees at the company “requesting to speak and seek an amicable resolution,” Flutterwave eventually paid her dues, she said in the Post.

This was followed, according to Odero, by the company’s involvement in a Twitter account that denounced male members of Flutterwave management for sexual harassment.

“I have asked several times about my fees, [I] didn’t really get an answer [I] was threatened and I responded accordingly,” said Odero, now CEO of Credrails, an open finance platform backed by SoftBank.

“Flutterwave paid me my money after several people called me to recall my lawyers; I had to call lawyers because they refused to pay me simply because they thought I wouldn’t do anything [a.k.a] bully me Without any evidence, they accused me of being behind an account that called out male members of management for sexual harassment.”

Odero’s post also revealed how she was “introduced to a bank in Nigeria for a role which GB then sabotaged by saying I was a bad worker, a crime in California”. But what broke her back was when Flutterwave “kept my contact number on the Mpesa payslip in an attempt to continue doing business with M-Pesa in Kenya”.

In that local article published two years ago, Wanjiku claimed her number was used as a contact in a scam in which Flutterwave allegedly organized non-existent sex parties in Thika, Kenya and extorted up to Sh1,500 from Kenyans.

Wanjiku sued Flutterwave for damages and won a settlement, according to her blog. However, she appealed after finding the payment insufficient to compensate for all the troubles caused. This was confirmed in a recent interview granted by Agboola and several key members of Flutterwave, published hours before Wanjiku published their Medium post.

“A former employee who ran one of our country expansions sued us for negligence and emotional trauma because we failed to remove his name as an in-country contact. Every time there was a dealer inquiry they got a call. They said this was emotional harassment,” the Flutterwave CEO revealed.

“We tried to resolve this amicably, but that was impossible. They asked for $900,000 to drop the lawsuit. We refused because we did not believe that $900,000 in damages represented the cost of the alleged negligence. They went ahead with the lawsuit and the judge awarded them the equivalent of $2,500 in damages. When it came time to write the check, they declined it and said they would appeal.”

The interview – which mainly highlighted Flutterwave’s rise to become Africa’s most valuable company and may have prompted Wanjiku to tell her side of the story – also noted that Flutterwave was dealing with a sexual harassment case in which “it was discovered that the an employee had behaved inappropriately towards his team members.” which resulted in immediate dismissal, the company claimed.

TechCrunch reached out to Flutterwave for comment and asked specific questions about Wanjiku’s claims of bullying by the company and its CEO. The fintech company declined to respond to any of our questions and instead sent this response:

As a company that constantly strives to create an environment in which employees feel safe and secure, 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 attitude towards bullying and a robust independent disciplinary committee and procedures to stamp out abuse of any kind.

Flutterwave has grown significantly in terms of personnel over the past 3 years. We have seen most of this growth during lockdown – it was very important for us to bring the whole company together to meet in one place (in many cases for the first time), share our history and challenges and build camaraderie. Sharing some of our challenges as a company understandably prompted a reaction from a former employee.

We confirm that at the time of termination all monies due to our then employee were paid promptly and we have records to confirm this. However, we sincerely regret the circumstances that led to the dispute and wish it could have been addressed more timely.

We did not take this lightly. We want the ecosystem to have a healthy and productive work culture and we are committed to doing our part.

In an interesting turn of events, Wanjiku told TechCrunch, “I can no longer talk about this for ‘the ecosystem'” when we asked her for more parts of her story.

This news comes two weeks after Lagos-based tech publication TechCabal published a report on the toxic and unhealthy work culture created in Bento, an HR platform, by CEO Ebun Okubanjo. The report has sparked a conversation that has prompted other employees across technology and various sectors in Nigeria and Africa to share similar workplace experiences over the past few weeks.

This is an evolving story…

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