The tech space enjoyed a number of encouraging trends this year. These ranged from funding to expansions and exits.
However, the industry also experienced some upsets: secrets were exposed, sexual harassment and allegations of funds misappropriation also made it to the fore during the year.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest ones.
David Hundeyin vs Future Africa
David Hundeyin, a Nigerian investigative journalist published an article that accused Future Africa, an Africa-focused VC firm of infringing on the intellectual property of an innovator who had approached it for funding.
Future Africa is owned by Iyin Aboyeji, a leader in the Nigerian technology space and a co-founder in Andela and Nigeria’s first unicorn, Flutterwave.
According to the article, the early-stage startup, Sidebrief sent its pitch emails to a series of investors, including YCombinator and Future Africa.
Sidebrief originally proposed a centralized platform to assist startup founders across Africa with registration and regulatory compliance. According to Hundeyin, this is the same service that Norebase now provides, with Future Africa as one of its investors.
The interesting twist to the story is that the founder of Norebase, Tola Onayemi was the former General Counsel to Future Africa. When the story broke, people opined that he had insider knowledge of Sidebrief’s pitch and then copied it.
Future Africa was quick to release a statement that denied the allegations, reiterating that it takes the intellectual property of the founders very seriously and that it has invested in the company through its standard process.
Some people jumped to Tola’s defence stating that he already talked to them about the project before the Sidebrief pitch.
A general consensus was that there should be better laws that protect against intellectual theft.
Chizom sexual harassment accusation
Chisom Echehieuka, Founder of Code Hub Africa Tech, an online training, and mentorship programme for tech enthusiasts announced on Twitter, a coding project for which he called young programmers to enrol.
He then solicited funds from Don Jazzy, as a gesture of youth empowerment and Don Jazzy sent him the sum of N1.5m for interested applicants.
It was a surprise when tweets started making rounds about a tech expert that was making sexual advances towards young women.
Things came to a head when Mochievous, a tech lawyer identified Chisom as the culprit in the tweet earlier made. This allegation was backed with evidence from the chat he had with a female applicant of the Code Hub Africa program.
In what can be likened to Pandora’s box, several other people came out to say he made sexual advances towards them.
Hours later, Chizom apologized for his actions but denied allegations that he sought sex in exchange for tech services.
There were calls for him to step down as the CEO of the tech hub but refused to do so.
Piggyvest bad invetsment rumour
There was panic on social media when rumours spread that Piggyvest, an online savings and investment platform lost 2billion naira to a fraudulent investment scheme.
The rumours started after an Instagram user @_trapselena_ alleged that Piggyvest and some other top organizations in Nigeria invested in an allegedly fraudulent company, Imagine Lenders.
Imagine Lenders is said to be a company that provides investment banking, advisory and micro-lending and brokerage services in Nigeria and Africa.
The company, owned by Samson and Elizabeth Ajetunmobi, both of whom are now on the run is said to have made N20billion through its ponzi scheme.
Users of the platform rushed to their accounts to check their funds and some even went as far as withdrawing their funds.
Piggyvest quickly released a statement on all its social media handles to allay the fears of its customers and assure them of the safety of their funds.
Though it did not state if the investment platform indeed make such a bad investment, the statement was enough to calm panicked nerves.
Piggyvest has often been mentioned when it comes to financial rumours. As such, its communications and PR teams often find themselves having to control these situations for the benefit of customers.
For some users, however, the constant involvement in financial rumours is tiring. The company has so far done a good job in allaying their fears.
Femco Bitcoin Saga
The Feminist Coalition (FEMCO) is one of the major groups that provided support to protesters during the EndSars protests.
Donors started making Bitcoin donations after government authorities reportedly blocked its account. After the protests, the group announced a breakdown of how the remaining funds — about N87 million — would be disbursed, an act that was commended by supporters.
It, therefore, came as a shock when a Twitter user, @Rx_Deyholar, tweeted that the Coalition had “silently” moved $51,000 worth of bitcoin to a newly generated account with just one transaction history.
This sparked a general outrage and many people demanded an explanation. The group via a press release stated that the funds alleged to have been secretly withdrawn was part of a sale with a third party between November 16 and December 1, 2020.
According to the group, the delay of the transaction was caused by a clog in the bitcoin network. Many people however believed that no crypto transfer should remotely take that long. Observers also noted certain disparities in the report that was earlier released.
Read more about this topic: #EndSARS: Feminist Coalition (FemCo) and the questions that require answers
The credibility of the group was questioned especially when supporters of the group claimed that only donors had a right to ask for accountability.
Multi-million dollar fraud by Porkmoney founders
A Nigerian couple, Gloria Igberaese and Muyiwa Folorunsho were allegedly accused of defrauding investors of over N1 billion.
The entrepreneurial couple allegedly used a company they cofounded, Divergent Enterprise which operated businesses such as Landlagos, PorkMoney, Hyberfactory and Porkoyum, among other companies to fleece millions of dollars from Nigerians in a slew of Ponzi schemes.
PorkMoney, a crowdfunding investment scheme for pig farming took investments as high as N1 million and above with a promise of 20% ROI in one year.
This investment was promoted using celebrity endorsements. Such endorsements led to more people investing, not knowing they were falling prey to a grand scheme.
These funds were however diverted to personal use, including for the purchase of luxury properties and foreign citizenshipPorkMoney victims
A petition was filed by victims when they did not get the promised returns. An arrest warrant was issued on the charge of obtaining money under false pretence and stealing.
The couple, with a history of employee maltreatment and a toxic workplace environment, were said to have fled to Dominica in an attempt to escape the arm of the law.
Investment schemes are often seen as a means of alternative income. However, they often turn out to be avenues for fraudsters to rip people off their money using believable business ideas.
Hopefully, more stringent measures and regulations for crowdfunding and investments would reduce such fraudulent schemes.
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