The big comeback?

EXCLUSIVE: Cellulant Co-Founder Re-enters With Bold New Play After Crisis


November 13, 2020

After bowing out from the company he nurtured for 15 years under somewhat acrimonious circumstances, Bolaji Akinboro, Co-Founder and former Co-CEO of Cellulant, is making a comeback.

Less than three months after resigning from his position following an internal crisis that seemingly spiralled out of control, Akinboro has re-emerged with a new B2B venture known as Voriancorelli, which launched on October 12, 2020.

As WeeTracker gathered from a well-placed source who requested anonymity, Voriancorelli has set out to capture a sizeable portion of the agric space in Nigeria, as a primary focus. However, the business also has future interests in a number of other sectors including health, education, power, and financial services.

A look at Voriancorelli’s presumed freshly-minted website suggests that Akinboro’s new venture also prides itself as “the matching company.” 

Basically, it’s a business-to-business (B2B) marketplace for agricultural commodities. The platform matches buyers, sellers, commodity aggregators, logistics partners, financers, and food processors to do business efficiently and securely.

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The company is said to provide online and offline tools, as well as operational and technical support to stakeholders in its ecosystem. It appears the primary mission is to enable suppliers of goods to access ready markets that are transparent and fair, by connecting them with buyers who are looking for quality products delivered effectively.

The business model has links to matching the buyers and sellers, securing logistics services, and delivering effective payment.

The source also revealed that the erstwhile Co-CEO of Cellulant has already put together a formidable leadership team at Voriancorelli with “over 50 years combined working experience.” It is understood that the new company already boasts a demand-supply ecosystem that features some of the biggest names in the Nigerian FMCG space.

It’s no coincidence that Akinboro’s new endeavour is primarily focused on the agric space having spearheaded Cellulant’s agric product line, Agrikore — which was coincidentally at the centre of the crisis that led to Akinboro’s departure from Cellulant; a company he co-created with Kenyan entrepreneur, Ken Njoroge.

Bolaji Akinboro

Fresh from raising what was at the time a record USD 47.5 Mn Series C from TPG Growth’s Rise Fund in 2018 — bringing its total funding amount to USD 54.5 Mn — Cellulant set out to further scale the blockchain-based agritech platform, Agrikore, which Akinboro had masterminded during his time at the company.

According to Cellulant, Agrikore exists to better connect farmers to the market and help them to sell their goods to a diverse range of buyers more easily.

It’s a blockchain-based payment and online marketplace system for smallholder farmers, agricultural input, and produce traders, created to close gaps in the agriculture supply chain. At one point, it was reported that Agrikore had served more than 7 million farmers across the continent.

Cellulant has claimed a turf as a dominant force in African fintech by enabling real-time digital payments in 12 African countries — via an ecosystem that claims to connect 28 mobile operators, 31 banks, and more than 200 blue-chip companies.

The company also claims that its agritech solution, Agrikore, has “registered 14.5 million farmers, contributed USD 30 Bn to the Nigerian GDP, and increased farmers’ income from USD 700.00 to USD 1800.00.”

In many ways, Akinboro’s new venture, Voriancorelli, mirrors the solution that Agrikore grew to become — before the crisis at Cellulant.

In September, word got out that Agrikore had to be shut down after some internal malpractice was uncovered. Cellulant did confirm to WeeTracker that an investigation revealed that 14 now-dismissed Agrikore employees had inappropriately received funds from Agrikore wallets.

In their statement, Cellulant also mentioned that Akinboro “resigned from all his management positions within the Cellulant group in late August as he’s responsible for the Agrikore platform.”

However, there have been many conflicting tales around the “true” happenings at Cellulant. The company’s account of the events that transpired continues to be disputed by some of the dismissed employees who point to a history of shabby governance within the company. Some of the ex-employees are known to have filed lawsuits.

Also, the dynamics that forced Akinboro’s departure from Cellulant Corporation is a complicated matter that is still unravelling. But for now, Akinboro, who has quite the track-record in deploying tech solutions to pressing problems, appears to have set sights on a new path.

Featured Image Courtesy: iStock

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