Copia, a Kenyan e-commerce platform serving low-income households, has laid off 25% of its 1,800 workforce. The company blamed labour costs and a need to improve profitability for the layoffs. 

Copia, a Kenyan e-commerce platform that serves low-income households, has laid off 25% or 350 members of its workforce. First reported by Techweez, the e-commerce company confirmed the layoffs in a statement to TechCabal. Part of the company’s statement said, “The limited restructuring process will likely impact less than 25% (about 350) of the permanent workforce. The majority of Copia’s employees are not affected by this,” says Copia. In compliance with Kenyan labor laws, the employees will be given a one-month notice and leave Copia before September. “Copia management will decide on the affected staff, who will then be informed of their employment status after one month,” the statement from Copia adds.

It is the third time this year that Copia has trimmed its headcount after it laid off 50 Kenyan workers at the start of the year. In April 2023, Copia closed its Ugandan operations making 300 employees redundant.  In 2023 alone, Copia has sacked 700 people.

What’s driving the layoffs?

In January 2022, Copia raised $50 million in a Series C round. And while the company says its in a good position financially, it claims that the layoffs are a way of reducing labour costs while it keeps its eye on boosting profitability. Copia currently employs 1,800 workers, but the company’s headcount will be 1,450 after today’s redundancies. Employees impacted will receive a severance package and other benefits. 

TechCabal confirmed that regular operations continued despite the layoffs, with Copia claiming that it is “optimising a number of key processes in its operations to enable it become more efficient in serving its Customers and partners.”

Official Copia statement to TechCabal

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.   

While improving our operating model through digital, tech-led initiatives to drive faster profitability, 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’s Kenyan operation is rapidly growing, 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 restructure process is intended to ensure that during these economically challenging times, we will continue to focus our 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.  

We are committed to working hard to achieve our goals and deliver sustainable profitability faster.  

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