Copia Global, a Kenyan-based e-commerce startup, has announced its decision to shut down its operations in Uganda, citing economic challenges and constrained capital markets. The move is in line with the company’s effort to prioritize profit and double down on efforts to drive its founding business in Kenya to sustainable, scaled profitability.
Tracey Turner, Copia Global’s founder, and chair, had described the expansion into Uganda in 2021 as “the next step” in fulfilling the company’s mission to reach Africa’s emerging middle class. However, the economic downturn and constrained capital markets are expected to continue for some time, and Copia has deemed it necessary to refocus its resources on its Kenyan business to ensure short-term profitability and long-term success.
Copia’s aggregation model combines technology and a network of roughly 40,000 local agents to reach consumers in cities and towns across East Africa, allowing it to pass on reduced prices from its vendor deals to customers. The company is also creating its line of branded products and has opened two facilities to package Copia-branded sugar and rice.
350 Ugandans Loss their job as Copia Shut Down
The decision to leave Uganda will impact more than 350 employees, but Copia says it has provided a severance package for affected employees and has already paid out outstanding commissions to agents. The company has also notified its agents and customers in Uganda of its departure.
Copia Global has disclosed a total of $103 million in funding over 7 rounds, with the latest being a $50 million Series C round led by Goodwell Investments in January 2022. While Copia plans to pause its international expansion plans, including suspending its Ugandan operation, the company aims to reach the point where it can restart its Pan-African plan.
According to CEO Tim Steel, “This is the right move for Copia given the market environment.” Copia’s decision to leave Uganda is not unique, as many companies in Africa and across the world have responded to the challenging market environment by prioritizing profit and refocusing their resources.