Tension is growing at SportPesa, the country’s largest sports betting company, after a shake-up of the marketing department that has seen senior staff leave.
Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Kester Shimonyo has resigned in unclear circumstances, and sources reveal that he and a junior marketing manager may have been forced out due to issues related to accountability.
Mr Shimonyo has been the face of the marketing arm of company at public functions in Kenya and the UK. “It (Shimonyo’s resignation) has to do with the money and accountability,” local sports website Sportssevens quotes an unnamed Sportpesa official as saying. “His position will be advertised very soon.”
Besides Mr Shimonyo, one other junior staff in the marketing department has also been sent home, according to the report. Efforts to get a comment from Sportpesa did not bear fruit, only a “no comment,” response.
Mr Shimonyo is a former Business Manager at the Standard Group and Royal Media Services, holds an Executive MBA from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
The sudden exits, which sources will be followed by a lifestyle audit of some of SportPesa’s senior managers, points to possible fraud at the company, where staffers could be using loopholes to pilfer cash from the betting firm.
SportPesa has turned out to be one of the most liquid companies in Kenya, making high-profile hires and even sponsoring English Premier League side Hull City in a three-year Ksh400 million deal, highlighting both the global popularity of the English Premier League and the exponential rise of mobile gambling across east Africa’s largest economy.
The company also launched another deal with EPL outfit Southampton just a day after making Hull City’s announcement. It plans to cover four continents of the world by next year.
Locally, SportPesa has already signed record sponsorship deals with Football Kenya Federation, Kenyan Premier League now SportPesa Premier League, Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Nakuru All Stars, Kenyan Rugby Union, Kenya Boxing Association, Extreme Super 8, EFC Charity Basketball, KBC Rio 2016 Olympics broadcast sponsor (revive Kenyan spirit) etc,which no other company is doing or has ever done.