Home » Kenyan tycoon Peter Njonjo takes timeout amid operational turmoil at Twiga Foods

Kenyan tycoon Peter Njonjo takes timeout amid operational turmoil at Twiga Foods

Operational challenges prompt Kenyan tycoon Peter Njonjo to take sabbatical from Twiga

by Omokolade Ajayi
Peter Njonjo

Kenyan tycoon Peter Njonjo, the CEO of Twiga Foods, a leading agritech firm in Kenya, has announced a six-month leave shortly after the company successfully secured an undisclosed amount in a recent funding round — this comes as an addition to the $160-million cumulative capital that Twiga Foods has amassed since its launch in 2014.

In a public statement released on Thursday, Twiga Foods disclosed that Njonjo would remain on the board of directors during his leave, entrusting the operational and commercial functions to Chief Operating Officer Laurent Gouault and the financial and legal aspects to Chief Financial Officer Zuber Momoniat.

Twiga Foods Chairman Hein Pretorius backs Njonjo’s sabbatical decision after successful capital raise

Hein Pretorius, the chairman of Twiga Foods’ board, expressed support for Njonjo’s decision, stating, “Following the successful capital raise, the board supports Peter’s decision to take a sabbatical and has full confidence in the capabilities of Twiga’s recently bolstered senior leadership team.”

Njonjo, in his remarks, mentioned that he would be focusing on personal matters during his leave. “I trust the ability of Laurent, Zuber, and the rest of the team to drive the growth of Twiga while I’ll be away, and thank the board for their support and understanding.”

This announcement unfolds against a backdrop of operational challenges for Twiga Foods, including staff layoffs, deferred payments to suppliers, and delayed salaries for workers. In August of this year, the company declared its intent to reduce its workforce by one-third as part of a strategy to cut costs by up to 40 percent, attributing the decision to a funding drought that was reportedly affecting the market.

Twiga Foods faces market turbulence amidst leadership concerns and cloud service dispute

The current turbulence at Twiga Foods has reverberated throughout the startup sector, with concerns arising due to its perceived position as a market leader. The company’s challenges include navigating through a protracted dispute with cloud services provider Incentro Africa over an alleged debt of Ksh39 million ($263,000). In October, Twiga Foods was granted a 60-day window by High Court Judge Josephine Mong’are to negotiate and settle this dispute.

Twiga Foods, founded in 2013 by Njonjo and Grant Brooke, has played a pivotal role in transforming Kenya’s agricultural sector. The company has successfully revolutionized the supply chain for high-quality produce, benefitting both Kenyan farmers and vendors. Through its cashless mobile B2B supply platform, Twiga Foods has connected millions of small- and medium-sized vendors in urban centers across Africa.

In 2021, Twiga Foods secured substantial funding of $50 million from investors, signaling plans to expand operations not only within Kenya but also into neighboring countries. However, the recent challenges and Njonjo’s sabbatical raise questions about the company’s stability and its ability to maintain its pioneering position in the agri-tech sector.

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