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    HomeGovernance, Policy & Regulations ForumCorporate Governance ForumAgritech Allure: Jumia Kenya CEO Forfeits Lucrative Compensation Package for Twiga Foods

    Agritech Allure: Jumia Kenya CEO Forfeits Lucrative Compensation Package for Twiga Foods

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    Twiga Foods, a prominent African agritech startup, has announced Charles Ballard as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), marking a strategic move aimed at bolstering the company’s leadership amidst a dynamic market landscape. Ballard’s appointment follows a rigorous global search process, bringing onboard a seasoned professional with over 15 years of experience, including 9 years within the Kenyan market, spanning e-commerce, retail, and financial services sectors.

    Ballard’s previous role as CEO of Jumia Kenya, a leading e-commerce entity, underscores his adeptness in steering businesses towards profitability, garnering acclaim for his transformative strategies within the sector. Hein Pretorius, Chairman of Twiga Foods board of directors, expressed elation at Ballard’s appointment, citing his profound understanding of Kenya’s e-commerce and retail sphere, operational prowess, entrepreneurial acumen, and fervor for Twiga’s vision as pivotal assets for the company’s growth trajectory.

    In his inaugural statement as Twiga Foods CEO, Ballard articulated his enthusiasm for leading a talented team during a crucial juncture for the company, emphasizing their unique value proposition and strategic positioning to capitalize on emerging market opportunities. He highlighted the imperative of enhancing operational efficiencies, technological infrastructure, and user experience to drive value creation across stakeholders and the wider ecosystem, pledging a steadfast commitment to nurturing a culture of collaboration and excellence within the organization.

    As CEO, Ballard will oversee all facets of Twiga’s operations, supported by a cadre of seasoned leaders including Chief Operating Officer Anjan Dasgupta, Chief Technology Officer Paul Bombo, Chief People Officer Susan Kiama, and Chief Financial Officer Zuber Momoniat. Ballard’s appointment is poised to fortify Twiga Foods’ mission of revolutionizing food supply chains across Africa, marking a pivotal milestone in the company’s growth trajectory.

    The transition at Twiga Foods follows the sudden departure of former CEO Peter Njonjo earlier this year, a move that stirred speculation within investor circles regarding the integration of corporate expertise within the dynamic startup landscape. Njonjo, renowned for his corporate tenure at the Coca-Cola Company, was initially tasked with steering Twiga towards unprecedented growth and institutionalization, underscoring the challenges inherent in aligning corporate paradigms with startup ethos.

    Ballard’s move comes despite Jumia Kenya’s well-regarded compensation structure, which includes Virtual Restricted Stock Units (VRSUs). VRSU plans grant employees ownership shares in the company after a vesting period, aligning their interests with the company’s success. Jumia’s VRSU program offers lucrative incentives for managers, with vesting tied to both company growth rate and profitability.

    The number of shares awarded depends on the manager’s level and the company’s performance. Jumia Kenya’s VRSU plans are divided into short-term (two-year) and long-term (four-year) options. 

    Short-term VRSU Plan:

    • Vesting based on company growth rate:
    • 100% vesting for growth rate exceeding 5%
    • 80% vesting for growth rate between 2.5% and 5%
    • 50% vesting for growth rate between -15% and 2.5%
    • No vesting for growth rate below -15%

    Long-term VRSU Plan:

    • Vesting based on growth rate and profitability:
    • Growth rate: Similar to short-term plan
    • Profitability:
    • 100% vesting for profitability improvement exceeding 15%
    • 80% vesting for improvement between 10% and 15%
    • 50% vesting for improvement between 5% and 10%
    • No vesting for improvement below 5%

    According to the rules, if a manager’s term ends due to revocation or voluntary resignation, their service agreement with Jumia automatically terminates. In such cases, any vested or unvested VRSU shares and other incentives will be forfeited without compensation.

    Jumia’s former Co-CEOs, Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec, adhered to these rules, forfeiting all VRSU shares granted in 2021 and 2022 upon their resignation.

    The reasons behind Ballard’s decision to leave Jumia Kenya’s attractive VRSU program for Twiga Foods are not explicitly disclosed. Ballard who has only spent one year at Jumia Kenya might have seen greater career potential or is drawn to the challenges and opportunities within the agritech sector.

    Twiga Foods leverages technology to empower Africa’s retail landscape. The company provides end-to-end distribution of FMCG products and fresh produce to over 100,000 registered B2B retail customers. Additionally, Twiga facilitates access to financial services, digital products and services, and valuable data for its extensive network of customers and suppliers.

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