On Thursday October 8th 2020, the Chief Executive Officer of Abuja-based agritech startup Thrive Agric, Uka Eje, said he would be stepping down from his position. This follows the difficulties Thrive Agric has faced in recent times due to the inability to pay back their customers.
Announcing his resignation in a lengthy Twitter thread, Uka Eje said his stepping down is part of the measures that have recently been taken in order to steer the company towards the path of growth. In his place, an interim Chief Executive Officer, Adia Sowho, has been brought in. The company’s stakeholders approved of these decisions.
“I write to you to share additional news regarding the delayed payouts at Thrive Agric caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Today, I specifically want to announce that we have made organizational changes to steer the business out of her current challenges and prepare Thrive Agric for the future. We have started this process with the support of our investors, particularly Ventures Platform, who has been the epitome of a value-adding investor. I will start first by announcing the new interim CEO, Adia Sowho. She is here to guide Thrive Agric through a turnaround exercise so that we survive the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the business. Adia has a lot of experience with building businesses from the ground up and shaping them to operate at scale,” part of the statement by Eje said.
Today, I specifically want to announce that we have made organizational changes to steer the business out of her current challenges and prepare Thrive Agric for the future.
— Uka Eje (@EjeUka) October 8, 2020
Uka Eje also made it clear that he is not leaving the company despite stepping down as CEO. Instead, he will be taking up the position of Chief Operating Officer whilst interestingly understudying the interim CEO. Now, this is interesting because Uka Eje co-founded Thrive Agric and has been serving as its CEO since 2016. Some people have even opined that he might never have left that position for a woman, had the company not suddenly found itself in troubled waters.
Interestingly two Nigerian startups that have come under fire on Twitter in the last couple of weeks have appointed women interim CEOs to lead them through “turbulent times”.
I’m not making any assumptions, it’s just important that we hold a mirror to ourselves in this ecosystem
— Moe (@Mochievous) October 8, 2020
In the meantime, Nigerians whose investments are stuck in the agritech platforms are still asking for their money. The startup became embroiled in controversy last week after users began calling them out due to delayed payments. Since then, Thrive Agric has issued a series of statements, first acknowledging that it was having challenges paying, even as it blamed the situation on disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company also assured its customers that they would all eventually get their refunds despite the delays.
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