Peter Njonjo, the CEO of e-commerce and food distribution company Twiga Foods has announced he is taking a six-month sabbatical.

Through an announcement published in a local daily, the co-founder of the business-to-business (B2B) marketplace said after “an intense 2023”, he had decided to take a break from his CEO role to focus on personal matters.

“I joined Twiga as CEO in 2019 because I had a dream of increasing food security in Africa, starting with my home country of Kenya… I am proud of what we have built at Twiga and the impact that Twiga has had through job creation, the reduction of agricultural waste, and ultimately the reduction of food costs for our people. I have decided to take a break after an intense 2023 from my day-to-day role as CEO to focus on personal matters,” Njonjo said.

Twiga said its Chief Operating Officer Laurent Gouault and Chief Financial Officer Zuber Momoniat will be leading the operational and commercial and finance & legal functions of the company respectively during this period.

Peter Njonjo will remain on the board of directors, the company added.

“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. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I thank Peter for his demonstrated commitment in ensuring the completion of Twiga’s recent funding round, despite the personal sacrifices required. As the board, we are delighted with Twiga’s strong market position, and we look forward to working together with Peter on the business’s further growth and development going forward,” the company’s chairman, Hein Pretorius said.

The ten-year-old start-up founded in 2013 by Njonjo and Grant Brooke secured an undisclosed amount of funding in late November from its existing investors Creadev, Juven, TLcom Capital Partners, and DOB Equity.

This came just weeks after the company faced a $261,878 (Ksh.40 million) debt collection lawsuit from cloud services vendor Incentro Africa.

The company has been in a tussle with Incentro and the cloud services provider previously sought to liquidate the e-commerce venture, to which Njonjo obtained temporary orders blocking the liquidation plan, disputing the debt.

“The statutory demand is made in bad faith and with ulterior motives,” Twiga said in response to Incentro’s petition, arguing that the lawsuit was motivated by an ulterior motive.

Twiga said Incentro was filing in retaliation after it reached out directly to Google Ireland, the ultimate provider of the cloud services, to protest the billing.

However, Twiga later confirmed it was in talks with Incentro to settle the debt.

Following last month’s funding, Njonjo said in a now-deleted post on Medium “We have sent over 100 letters informing suppliers that we have now finalised our restructuring and refinancing and they will finally have their long outstanding dues paid.”

Twiga sources farm produce directly from farmers and delivers it to urban retailers. The company  a third of its staff in August after another round at the close of last year, which saw the company send home 21 per cent of its workforce.

The restructuring, the company said, was part of its plan to slash costs by up to 40 per cent and achieve what they called a lean, agile and cost-effective organization.

By Fred Azelwa.