Wave, a West African fintech that offers mobile money services in Senegal and Ivory Coast laid off about 15% of its workforce last month.
Wave, was launched in 2018 to help Senegalese and other Africans who lack affordable ways to save, transfer, or borrow money, start businesses or support their families.
Jessica Chervin, an expansion lead who had joined Wave in March , wrote on LinkedIn, that she was leaving the company. “Like many tech companies, Wave is adjusting rapidly to the jarring changes in capital markets in recent months and like the best of them (and importantly, as a financial institution), it has had to make very hard calls in order to ensure that it can continue to serve customers in existing markets now and long into the future. This vital shift in strategic priorities means that I and many others are leaving Wave far earlier than anyone had hoped.”
The company also revealed to TechCrunch that “close to 15%” of the company’s almost 2,000 staff were let go. Thus, the layoffs affected almost 300 employees, most of whom worked in Wave’s new markets: Burkina Faso, Mali and Uganda.
According to a statement Wave released to its employees on June 30, the company said it was scaling back its teams in these markets as part of efforts to make sure it doesn’t have to depend on new funding at a time “when investors around the world are cutting back.”
Wave said its decision to pull out from newer markets will help it double down on Senegal and Ivory Coast, core markets “where we are market leaders in mobile money with growing businesses” as it continues to serve its new markets.
The firm, run by Drew Durbin and Lincoln Quirk, was valued at $1.7 billion at its last fundraise last September after it raised $200 million, the largest Series A in Africa. It was led by Stripe, Sequoia Heritage, Founders Fund and Ribbit Capital. The startup’s other investors include Sam Altman and Partech Africa.
The company is disrupting the mobile money industry dominated by banks and telcos with its app-based solution, cheaper fees and QR-based tech. And despite its continuous squabble with these incumbents due to eating into their market share, Wave claims to serve over 10 million users monthly across its operating markets.
Wave is the first unicorn out of Senegal and the overall Francophone Africa region. However, its staff cuts across its five markets, Tunisia, Kenya, the U.S., Germany, Nigeria and the U.K. The company’s spokesperson said that a small percentage of the released employees operated remotely across these countries.
“The people we’re parting ways with are some of the smartest and most dedicated in our industry. Letting them go is one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever had to make as a business,” the remainder of the statement read. “We regret the impact on employees and their families, but we feel strongly that the best way to honor these colleagues is to ensure their contributions last. Wave is offering enhanced benefits and packages to all affected employees to express our deep appreciation for their valuable contributions, hard work, and dedication.”
Layoffs have affected both big and small Tech companies. Microsoft, for example have fired and Meta has hinted at firing employees. Small- to large-sized startups in various sectors globally such as Coinbase, Bolt, Twitter, PayPal, and Tesla, have downsized too due to rising interest rates and an extended bull run that swept across private and public markets over the last couple of years, among other factors.