Wasoko, a Kenyan e-commerce platform backed by Tiger Global and 4DX Venture, has refuted claims that it has closed its Rwandan operations weeks after exiting Zanzibar and pausing business in Uganda and Zambia.

The e-commerce platform told TechCabal via email that it is ramping up its headcount in Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. In Rwanda, the company is searching for partnership and procurement associates. It has three open roles for its Kenyan business and four in Tanzania, including an opportunity for two procurement managers.

“We recently opened a new warehouse in Rwanda in November 2023 and are actively hiring for new positions to further strengthen our commitment to the country,” Wasoko said in an email statement.

Wasoko added that it has onboarded new suppliers, including Movit, a cosmetics manufacturer, and Oxi, a detergent distributor, for its Rwandan operations. The B2B platform, which is yet to finalise its merger with Egypt’s MaxAB, also revealed that it is awaiting the arrival of its first shipment of Egyptian products for distribution in Rwanda. The shipments will “mark the “launch of its new Pan-African sourcing strategy” as Wasoko seeks to tap MaxAB’s reach in Northern Africa.

Wasoko exited two other markets – Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire – meaning its current operations are in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and DRC Congo. Wasoko’s soon-to-be partner MaxAB, is available in Egypt and Morocco where its primary business is linking retailers to beverage suppliers.

Wasoko and MaxAB have already started integrating their operations in Nairobi, with the full process expected to take a year and the organisations are “firmly on track within the timeframe.”

One person with knowledge of the business told TechCabal that MaxAB is reversing some decisions made by Wasoko, including reopening some of the startup’s distribution centres in Kenya and catering to large-scale retailers.

“Wasoko would not sell to businesses such as small supermarkets because they were not its target, instead choosing to focus on small retailers in its markets,” the person said. “MaxAB does not have these limitations, and they just want to serve their suppliers no matter their size.”

Once valued at $260 million, Wasoko is facing a lawsuit from nine ex-employees over severance pay and stock options. The company settled for a month’s salary to avoid a court battle, but the ex-employees want severance pay for 12 months and redemption of shares at a fixed price. The ex-staff members also claim Wasoko for advertising the roles that had been declared redundant.

“The respondent (Wasoko) did not give the claimants (the ex-employees) the opportunity to take up for those roles in the consultative meetings,” a court document seen by TechCabal said. 

The next hearing is scheduled for May 9.

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