Copia Lays Off All Its Employees, Signaling End of Operations

Copia Global, once a rising star lauded for its innovative business model aimed at serving rural Africa, has reportedly laid off its entire workforce of close to 1,060 employees. This drastic move marks a significant downturn for the company, signalling potentially the final nail in the coffin as the company might be shutting down completely.

These difficulties surfaced publicly when an internal memo leaked two weeks ago, revealing Copia’s financial strains. At its peak, Copia boasted a robust network of 50,000 agents dedicated to servicing rural parts of Kenya. The company, which had raised $107 million through eight funding rounds since its inception in 2012, cited challenges in raising further capital as a primary reason for its decline.

The deterioration of Copia’s financial health became evident in recent actions and decisions. Faced with insurmountable fiscal challenges, the e-commerce platform had already begun scaling back operations before the mass layoffs. This included exiting the Ugandan market—barely two years after its initiation—and reducing its workforce. More recently, the company ceased taking orders in six key Kenyan locations, including Embu and Eldoret, in an attempt to curtail expenses. Such measures, however, were insufficient to stabilize its operations.

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In a 20-minute meeting with staff, Copia CEO Tim Steel, together with newly appointed administrators from KPMG, are reported to have communicated the grave news. Employees were instructed to return company property and prepare for their imminent exit. Despite assurances to honour payments of a month’s salary and accrued benefits in accordance with Kenyan labor laws, the lack of a clear timetable for these payments has escalated anxieties among the staff.


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