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African Tech Founders React to Damning Allegations against Flutterwave

When Flutterwave wanted to raise $100 million in Jan. 2021, it pitched a compelling set of metrics to investors. Its revenue had grown from $5 million to $55 million between 2018 and 2020. Gross profit was $26 million with a 48% margin. Its services were used in 20 countries, thanks to the hard work of over 270 employees. Based on these numbers, the licenses it had in six African countries, and plans to introduce new products, the company projected it would hit nearly half a billion dollars in gross profit by 2025 with a margin over 50%. Tiger Global and other investors ended up giving Flutterwave $170 million in Mar. 2021, valuing it at a billion dollars for the first time. It capped a stunning rise for a startup that was worth $150 million 18 months earlier. Flutterwave has raised more and is valued at over $3 billion today, becoming Africa’s most valuable, talked about tech company. But with talk this month being less flattering due to allegations of financial and personal misconduct against CEO Olugbenga Agboola, attention on Flutterwave—and African startups generally—is less on sugar rush valuations. For the first time in African tech, the dominant chatter between investors is on corporate governance, ethics and culture. Meanwhile, investors and other African tech enthusiasts say Agboola’s alleged actions should not taint Flutterwave itself, regarding this as more a Travis Kalanick Uber moment than a Theranos disaster. Two of the former Flutterwave investors suggested that Agboola could be replaced as CEO but believe the allegations won’t affect Flutterwave because the company is already an important part of Africa’s digital economy.