This is what we are hearing: Jumia, the Rocket-funded e-commerce outfit just laid off 300 of its workers in Nigeria.

Mentions of  the firings were first seen on Twitter when a user, @duwayah tweeted about it.

It’s unclear if @duwayah is one of the affected Jumia staff.

However, if this is true, that’s about 30% of Jumia’s 1000-person strong workforce in Nigeria. Jumia has not commented on the firings and has yet to release an official statement regarding this, but we have reached out to them and expect a comment.

One of the questions a lot observers on this side of the table are asking is why Jumia is downsizing and the reason why it has done so in the manner being rumoured.

We are still unsure about the firings, but a lot point to the fact that this may be true. For one, the approach in which the firing was rumoured to have been done (and the scale too)  is true to Rocket Internet’s script on downsizing. Rocket Internet – the majority investor in Jumia – with the Samwer Brothers at the helms have been known to hire and fire on a whim. In one of many similar actions, Rocket Internet closed some of its offices in Turkey  in 2012, firing 400 workers in the process.

Much closer home, at the same time this story is making the rounds in Nigeria, Kaymu (another Rocket Internet portfolio company) closed its Tanzanian office. No words on how many workers over there had to be laid off.

Hiring and firing on short notice has been accepted as one of the many quirks of early stage startups. iRoko TV, Konga and Hotels.ng also executed broad-based retrenchments in their early – early – stages in Nigeria, but Rocket Internet has always been questioned for its insensitivity. This Nairaland thread from 2012 – while it can’t be taken on face value – also speaks to Jumia’s “insensitivity”.

“The line managers were tools to perpetuate the acts, and the coup de grace would be when the line manager gets fired after he had fired the other staff, I saw this happen in marketing and human resources while I was there,” writes the OP, JU, a former Jumia employee.

One of the more obvious reasons Jumia will be cutting jobs is to reduce burn rate.  Which makes sense because Jumia has yet to turn profit since it began operations in Nigeria in 2012 despite a $200 million funding chest. Of course, it’s only one of many Rocket Internet portfolio companies that are yet to do so. Perhaps the mothership in Germany is already getting impatient with the Nigerian team which is facing steep growth targets on a modest budget.

We’ll keep our eyes on this one.

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