Eke Urum's Risevest found guilty of sexual allegation, reinstates CEO position

Eke Urum's Risevest found guilty of sexual allegation, reinstates CEO position

In February 2021, former Head of Marketing, Risevest, Efe Uduigwomen published on Medium about the reasons she left her place of work — the investment company founded in 2019 by Eke Urum (Founder, and CEO as of August 2022); Bosun Olarenwaju (Co-founder and CTO) and Tony Odiba (Co-founder, Head of Product and acting CEO).

In her seven-paragraphed piece titled Farewell, Risevest; Uduigwomen exposed the gross work environment she worked in opening up that by terms of her work contract, the transaction was remote however, otherwise was the case in reality when she’d be reminded to send a resignation letter if she couldn’t work from the office every day. The contention may not have aggravated but due to the period that saw the rise in the work-from-home culture and stay-at-home jurisdiction, the health-conscious worker was sure it was a risk to adhere to the instruction.

“My primary concern was how being at the office every day made me less safe from the COVID pandemic that has troubled the world. I visit my mum and grandma every other weekend and as much as possible, I try to limit going out, and as someone who battled the virus, I’ve had to be extra careful. Also, by my contract, my work location was remote, and I wasn’t required to be at the office every day. But it was either that or sending in my resignation, regardless of what my concerns were. It wasn’t up for a discussion either and before I could wrap my head around the situation, an announcement that I resigned was made by the CEO during a team meeting; where he also shared some of my confidential work/career information.”

Following this course of events that led to an eventual response by the CEO in an interview with TechCabal, Urum made the news recently in August 2022 alleging him of sexual misconduct towards an undisclosed employee.

On August 29, 2022, a statement by the investors of the company read:

“In light of allegations of abuse of power and sexual impropriety, Eke Urum, willingly agreed to step aside as the CEO of Risevest as of August 3, 2022, to allow for a six-week investigation, set up by Risevest’s investors, to run its course.

We are committed to getting to the root of the matter and have launched a formal investigation to achieve this.”

It further stated that for the sake of transparency, no employee was involved in the investigation. The investigative panel which consisted of Tomi Davies of TVC Labs as chairperson; Dunoluwa Longe of TLP Advisory as legal adviser and, Toun Tunde-Anjous of The People Practice as people and culture adviser was meant to reveal findings two weeks following the conclusions derived.

Pledging stakeholders and onlookers, the statement noted that it would not defer from ensuring high-quality services to its customers, hence, its operations would continue as though they were not affected by the circumstances. To effect this and gain the trust of customers, upon the CEO having willfully stepped down, an acting CEO, Tony Odiba was appointed.

“Risevest as a company has zero-tolerance for abuse, harassment, and misconduct and is committed to establishing the truth of this matter while also reviewing policies to ensure a safer workplace.”

“Risevest’s operations and investment processes do not rely on any single individual and are completely unaffected by any of these circumstances. Our team continues to manage all investments and operations as usual.”

Eke Urum's Risevest guilty of sexual misconduct, reinstates CEO position
A public statement released by Risevest. 

Subsequently, following the six-weeks investigation, the findings from the three-man investigative panel declared Urum guilty of charges. This was made known in a press release.

“The evidence presented to the panel could not prove sexual assault by Eke Urum. However, the evidence presented to the panel including admitted sexual relations with an employee and unwanted, inappropriate jokes and conversations revealed sexual impropriety. It also showed a pattern of abuse of power, intimidation, retaliation and workplace bullying by him.”

While Tony Odiba remains as the Acting CEO until the newly inaugurated Board of Directors which consists of Urum (a non-executive member of the board), Odiba alongside two investor representatives, and one independent member approved by both founder and investor groups — appoints the next CEO. Although, the company doesn’t have a Board of Directors prior, once it has been constituted, the conversion of the currently held SAFEs into equity follows — as Eke, the largest shareholders in the company would lead the investment strategy and guidance on technology.

SAFE is Simple Agreement for Future Equity — the investment contract between investors and companies is used to invest in early-stage startups and is converted to equity in case of liquidity, IPO and, or venture capital financing.

According to Crunchbase, the stock investment company has raised a total of $120k in seed funding.

In April 2021, Risevest was among the companies declared illegal by Nigeria’s Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) owing to nonsubmission to regulatory policies.

Risevest CEO Advised To Step-down After Alleged Misconduct