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Copia says its restructuring to impact less than 25% of its permanent workforce in Kenya

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Copia, the rural-focused B2C ecommerce platform touted as the Amazon for Africa has fired off over 800 employees in Kenya and Uganda, in a restructuring process intended to ensure the firm’s continuity in these economically challenging times.

Copia is not the only tech firm that has fired its staff. Globally, big tech giants have also fired their staff due to the economic downturn and venture capital shortage.

“Given that the economic downturn and the constrained capital markets are likely to continue for some time, Copia is optimising a number of key processes in its operations in Kenya to provide a better service to its customers and to drive sustained operating profitability. These changes require Copia to undergo a limited restructure of its operations,” announced the firm in a statement. “This restructuring process will likely impact less than 25% of the permanent workforce and will be undertaken in full compliance with Kenyan labour law and with sensitivity to all employees affected by the process,” Copia spokesperson wrote to TechMoran.

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Founded in Kenya in 2013 by Tracey Turner and Jonathan Lewis, the B2C e-commerce platform aims to serve Africa’s middle- and low-income African consumers using technology and a network of local agents spread across villages and towns to serve customers in rural areas populated with “base of the pyramid” consumers. Copia allows rural households to access goods that would otherwise be difficult to obtain without traveling to a major city. 

With the Kenyan operations up and running, the company expanded its operations into Uganda in 2021 with plans to launch across Africa after successfully securing funding. However, Copia ceased operations in Uganda due to unfavourable market conditions and a shift in focus towards maximizing profits in Kenya. The shutdown in Uganda saw over 300 employees affected. Back home in Kenya, the firm fired over 50 employees in nearly the same season. The latest restructuring will reportedly see over 350 employees affected even though the is saying will only affect a few employees, 25 percent to be exact.

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Copia had launched a state of the art fulfillment center in Kampala to enhance availability of goods for customers in the country. The 24,000 square feet fulfillment center was covering 14 districts in the country and was launched after the firm was globally recognized for its innovative supply chain management and transformative farming service.

To bolster its executive team, Copia had appointed former Amazon executive Jason Murray to its Board. Jason is an ex-Amazon exec with 19 years experience in software development, pricing, inventory planning, fulfillment, supply chain management, and retail systems. He saw Amazon grow its revenues from $1.6 billion to $236 billion. Jason joined other Copia Global Board members include Founder and Chairman Tracey Turner, Isaac Awuondo, Chairman NCBA Bank, Jerry Held, a successful Silicon Valley technology executive, and Shakir Merali, LGT Impact investor representative.

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Apart from the experienced board, Copia had also raised $50 million and an earlier $26 million for the growth and expansion across Africa. The funds might now be diverted to build its technology, logistics and white-label manufacturing to improve its efficiency during these tough economic season.

Restructuring aside, Copia says its business is growing rapidly in Kenya, providing e-commerce services to middle-income consumers through an unrivaled high-quality, low-cost distribution network of over 50,000 agents. In addition, its service also provides local manufacturers with a unique, efficient route to market. 

“This limited restructuring process is intended to ensure that during these economically challenging times, Copia will continue to focus its resources on the critical levers of business success and remain a lean and sustainable business for the long-term. This decision is consistent with many of the best companies in Africa and across the world which are responding to the market environment and prioritizing profit. Copia is committed to working hard to achieve our goals and deliver sustainable profitability faster,” the firm announced adding that it’s improving its operating model through digital, tech-led initiatives to drive faster profitability.

Copia’s white label offerings and its manufacturing unit are expected to increase its output of affordable sugar and rice to the Kenyan market to meet local demand and drive faster to profitability. Kenyan households use tonnes of sugar and rice each year and Copia’s addition of these items to its inventory are expected to bolster its revenues.

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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakobahttp://techmoran.com
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs  TechMoran.com, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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