SEEKING P.M.F

Inside The Shakeup That Laid Off ~30 Employees At Sendy Nigeria

By  |  February 10, 2023

Kenyan digital logistics startup, Sendy, is extending the shakeup that the business has undergone in recent months by gutting its operations in Nigeria.

It was not clear at the time of initial reports how many employees are being let go in line with the reorganisation but well-placed sources have told WT that the team of around 30 people across operations, marketing, and finance have been laid off in Nigeria as the company reassesses its options. However, the company shared a statement with WT suggesting it’s still figuring out the extent of the shakeup.

“We are in the process of reviewing and aligning on the critical roles in this new journey. We will know more clearly with time as we start and continue implementing various product tests,” the company said in an emailed response.

TechCrunch had revealed in an earlier report that Sendy maintains it opted to quit on-the-ground operations but will continue to serve the Nigerian market via an asset-light offering that replaces fulfilment services with a software solution that connects sellers to logistics providers.

However, it remains unclear how this will take shape, nor is it known what would become of a deal which sources say Sendy had inked with a major telco in Nigeria recently.

Sources also revealed that workers at the warehouse, as well as employees in Human Resources and Finance, will remain on duty till the end of February, while the others are understood to have been paid off pro-rata with effect from February 3rd. Sendy however maintains it will still keep an office and a team.

“We are not vacating physical offices in Nigeria, Sendy is still operational. We will have a team in the market that is driving our operations,” the company shared.

Meshack “Mesh” Alloys, the current CEO, co-founded Sendy in Kenya in 2015 along with the trio of Evanson Biwott, Don Okoth and Malaika Judd, and the company started off as an on-demand delivery platform which linked customers (individuals and businesses) to its network of transporters across a fleet that grew to 5,000+ vehicles for deliveries of items.

The startup would eventually dip into other territories, including a bike-hailing operation that launched in Kenya in 2016 but was discontinued after two months, as well as a foray into business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce built around procuring everyday goods and supplying to retailers under a now-suspended product known as Sendy Supply.

“We paused the Sendy Supply service, as part of a wider strategic focus to consolidate efforts around solutions that impact more customers and speak to the current and immediate market challenges,” Alloys had told WT last December.

Rapid geographical expansion also took Sendy to other African markets including Nigeria, Uganda, and Cote d’Ivoire with plans for more. (Sendy’s Uganda and Ivory Coast operations remain unaffected, WT understands.)

However, headwinds arising from fundraising difficulties in a subdued tech market and operational frailties exacerbated by the Covid pandemic have forced a reset at Sendy, culminating in at least two waves of layoffs that terminated more than 80 employees over the last 6 months; as well as the discontinuation of the other two offerings in its product line, Sendy Transport and Sendy Supply, while making its online commerce-facing solution, Sendy Fulfillment, the sole focus.

Sendy, which entered the Nigerian market in late 2021 where it set out to facilitate order fulfillment from parcel pickup to warehousing and last-mile delivery, had been holding its own quite well per former employees, securing buy-in with several businesses in Nigeria’s commercial nerve Lagos which engaged its services in shipping goods to buyers.

Sendy also told WT that it had fared well. “We have seen growth across all our verticals and also for the business we work with,” a company representative emphasised. One employee said they were taken aback by the decision to pull the plug, though the company reiterates it’s not a decision taken lightly.

“This was a data-led decision. Sendy has operated in Nigeria for slightly over a year. In that time, we’ve had some great wins. However, we still haven’t found a full product-market fit as we have in our other markets,” Sendy explained.

“It is important to us that the solution we offer fully meets the needs of our customers. We will take the next couple of months to continue testing and iterating our product mix to see what best serves the market, maximizes operational efficiency and accelerates growth.”

It is not far-fetched to link the upheaval at Sendy’s Nigerian unit to the reset the startup has witnessed lately targeted at improving efficiency while being better positioned to survive the headwinds in global markets that have thwarted fundraising efforts.

“Fulfillment continues to be at the core of what Sendy does. We are not pivoting. In Nigeria, we have made the decision to cease on-the-ground operations and focus instead on getting the right product. This means that we will continue to connect sellers to logistics providers but will no longer consign their goods,” Sendy Nigeria General Manager Daniel Edeimu had been quoted as saying.

Sendy becomes the latest non-Nigerian startup that has opted to move away from Africa’s largest economy in recent months, after South African on-demand cleaning service SweepSouth and Uganda’s SafeBoda – both of which quit Nigeria late last year within a week of each other citing economic constraints.

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