Copia Global, a Kenyan B2C e-commerce platform that allows retailers to shop and restock essential goods using a mobile app or USSD, has stopped taking orders from Central and Eastern Kenya one week after cashflow challenges forced it to go into administration.

The new administrators have cut back on Copia’s markets to preserve cash as it seeks new investors, TechCabal has learned. The six affected markets are Naivasha, Machakos, Meru, Embu, Kericho, and Eldoret. 

The staff working in the depots that serve the affected markets have been sent on leave. On May 16, the company said it would lay off over 1,000 workers. The company has 900 permanent employees and 200 casuals on its payroll. 

Anne Mwihaki, Copia’s director of human resources, told employees via email that the company would inform “all external stakeholders, including agents, customers and transporters.” 

In a separate email, Makenzi Muthusi, one of the administrators appointed by Copia, assured employees that the firm had funds to cover May salaries but delayed the disbursement because they “were unable to complete the administrative tasks relating to the bank accounts.” 

Copia Kenya appointed Muthusi and Julius Ngonga of KPMG, an audit and advisory firm, to help turn around operations and raise fresh capital for the Kenyan unit.

“As a follow-up to our previous communication on the administration process, as a reminder, the objectives of the administration are to maintain the company as a going concern, and the administrators continue to work with management to raise capital from new investors for the Kenya business,” Mwihaki said. 

Copia, once a darling of venture capitalists–including US’s DFC and GoodWell Investments–received $123 million in funding but failed to turn on profit. The company sought to turn informal rural kiosks into a multi-billion digital retail platform linking customers directly to fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers to lower product costs. 

At its peak, Copia had 1,800 staff and over 50,000 agents spread across Kenya’s Western, Nyanza, Central, and Eastern regions. In 2022, the firm opened a hub in Uganda but closed after a year, stopping its pan-African expansion ambitions.  

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