Downsizing efforts

As Layoff Season Grips Tighter, Kenya’s Sendy Cuts Staff

By  |  August 2, 2022

This May, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released its Technology Pioneers 2022, a global list of top 100 tech pioneers said to be changing the face of the world’s business scene. Of the 6 African tech startups that made the ranking, Kenya racked 3 on the backs of Pula Advisors, Access Afya, and Sendy.

Sendy, which is building fulfillment infrastructure for eCommerce and consumer brands, seemed to be the most notable Kenyan tech company to have made WEF’s list. Why? Sendy is one of the very few African startups to have roped in funding from Japan’s Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the investment vehicle of Toyota, one of the world’s oldest and largest automobile manufacturers. 

In January 2020, Sendy loaded up USD 20 M in Series B, taking its total fundraising efforts above USD 26 M. In 2021, the venture announced it was on the lookout for a USD 100 M financing round in order to penetrate markets in West, Southern and even North Africa. 

The Nairobi-headquartered company was on the brink of aggressively disrupting the continent’s fragmented supply chains, which would have obviously required massive hiring drives. 

However, fresh intelligence from Sendy divulged that in the light of recent shifts in the global tech market, Sendy has let go of a fraction of its workforce. According to fellow ecosystem publication TechCabal, the Kenyan startup has cut 10 percent of its 300-man staff

Though Africa is so far unaffected by the world’s ongoing venture capital retrenchment, it is not immune to layoff syndrome unsettling the world’s tech industry. The huge cost-cutting wave is unlikely to slow down, as the highest-flying companies with massive valuations and meteoric growth prospects attempt to scale back amid an economic downturn. 

Sendy joins a rather short list of African startups that have recently reduced the size of their workforce. This news comes after Senegal’s Stripe-backed Wave, one of the continent’s biggest fintech [unicorn] startups, laid off 15 percent of its employees, majorly those in its newer markets. 

Before Wave’s issuing, SPAC-chasing Swvl pulled the plug on its Kenyan operations amid a downsizing exercise that saw it cut 32 percent of staff, a turnout that affected about 400 people. Meanwhile, in June, Egyptian healthtech Vezeeta, which operates in the Middle East and Africa, cut 10 percent of its 500-person workforce. 

Sendy’s layoff is happening within one of Africa’s key tech talent hubs. On the back of efforts from giants like Safaricom, Microsoft, CloudFactory, and local units of other Fortune 500 companies, Kenya is becoming a major hotspot for [both] internationally and locally tapping talent in the continent. 

As the layoff season continues, startups keep looking for ways to reduce costs, stay relevant, and brace for what’s next. 

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