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Another one bites the dust: Amartha’s CEO resigns from presidential staff position amid controversy

Andi Taufan Garuda Putra is the second tech startup CEO to leave the president’s staff, following Ruangguru’s CEO Belva Devara.

Photo courtesy of Amartha

The CEO of Indonesian fintech company Amartha, Andi Taufan Garuda Putra, has left his position as a special staffer for President Joko Widodo.

The 32-year-old CEO said he submitted his resignation letter to the president on April 17 and has officially vacated his position in public service. “This resignation is based solely on my sincere desire to fully serve the economic empowerment of the community, especially for micro and small businesses,” Putra said in a statement.

Prior to his departure, Putra was mired in controversy stemming from conflict of interest. In early April, he sent a letter printed on stationery bearing the Cabinet Secretary’s letterhead to district leaders, asking them to support his company’s COVID-19 relief program.

The volunteer program, which was organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Villages, Development of Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration, aims to raise awareness about COVID-19 in rural areas. Amartha would also collect information on the quantities of personal protective equipment needed at community health centers.

Putra’s move stirred an uproar on social media, as he did not have the authority to appoint corporate entities for COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The use of the Cabinet Secretary’s letterhead for his company’s interests was also deemed inappropriate. He has since revoked the letter and issued a public apology. However, this issue was not addressed in his latest statement.

Amartha was started as a microfinance company before it transformed into a peer-to-peer fintech lending firm in 2016. Its serves micro, small, and medium enterprises, especially women entrepreneurs.

In November, Widodo appointed Putra and six other young entrepreneurs aged between 23 and 36 as special staffers, whose task is to advise the president on various subjects, including the creative industry and entrepreneurship. Other than Putra, Ruangguru CEO Belva Devara had resigned as well to sidestep conflict of interest allegations.