Copia Kenya

Copia Kenya to Close Down After Terminating Employees

An internal memo showed that the B2C e-commerce platform, Copia Global, was struggling to make a payroll. Copia laid off at least 1,060 employees (allegedly all employees). The layoffs raise questions about its future two weeks after it entered into administration. This indicates that the company may be on the edge of closure or scaling back operations big time. The Kenyan B2C e-commerce startup entered administration on May 24.

What is Copia Global

  • Copia Global is an e-commerce start-up that gives market access to middle to low-income African consumers through digital agents and print product catalogs.
  • The co-founders of Copia are Tracey Turner & Jonathan Lewis. They are friends and colleagues from Silicon Valley. Tracey had lived and worked in Kenya in the 1990s.
  • The serial entrepreneurs, each started their own social impact fintech companies in the early 2000s.
  • It was launched in 2012 having secured $123 Million across 8 funding rounds.
Copia logo/Photo Courtesy

Despite its troubles, Copia Kenya has agreed to a one-month salary and other benefits like accrued unpaid leave days. This is per Kenyan labor laws. The administrators of the company have yet to specify a given timeframe for these payouts. 

Copia’s On-going Troubles

An ex-employee of the troubled start-up confessed that Copia started facing financial difficulties in 2022. The constraints forced them to scale back operations, exiting Uganda almost two years after launch. 700 employees were laid off in the process.

It recently downsized its operations by about 1,000 workers. They attributed their infamous decision to challenges in fundraising. In December 2023, however, the e-commerce company announced a $20 Million extension round.

On May 24, 2024, Copia joined KPMG’s Makenzi Muthusi and Julius Ngonga in the administration process.

On May 31, 2024, the Kenyan unit temporarily suspended orders in six Kenyan markets: Naivasha, Machakos, Meru, Embu, Kericho, and Eldoret. The employees in these markets were reportedly placed on leave. A Kenyan employee also confessed to ONPoint News that she had lost her job at the company.

A Bleek Future Ahead for Copia

The substantial layoffs and scaling back are strong indications that Copia Global is facing severe financial instability. The biggest concern is the way forward for the employees as they await clarity on their compensation. As Copia navigates its financial hurdles, the future of the once-vibrant company remains uncertain.