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Wasoko Exits Zanzibar, Pauses Operations in Uganda and Zambia

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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It is going to be an eventful year for the fintech companies in Africa. This doesn’t exclude Wasoko, a startup company that provides convenient and cost-effective access to products and services.

Wasoko

The Kenyan startup has unfortunately shut down its Zanzibar Office, it also paused operations in Uganda and Zambia. All these were done before the startup finalized a merger with MaxAB. These shutdowns might be concerning for the users in the stated countries. 

About Wasoko

The startup was founded in 2013, it enables entrepreneurs to sell, and their retail experience is unrivaled because of the competitive products and free delivery. Its headquarters is situated in Nairobi, Kenya but it has a strong presence in some African countries such as Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. 

It had the mission to help communities across Africa to get more for a lesser amount. This was a way to solve one of the biggest retail challenges the continent is facing. The company offers market trends, business insights, and personalized promotions to retailers and manufacturers through their smart data dashboards. The company had good reviews from some businesses across the continent. 

This makes it surprising that it was withdrawing from these countries. It opened its Zanzibar office in 2022. It did this as part of the Silicon Zanzibar initiative, which was a government program to motivate and attract youths who are interested in tech. However, the company had claimed it would continue to serve as a “private sector ambassador for the initiative” despite its closure of the Zanzibar branch.

Temporary Closure Of Wasoko’s Branches In Zanzibar and The Rest 

The company further highlighted that its branches in Uganda and Zambia are not permanently closed but it was undergoing a temporary closure where they can improve on their craft and make their product more user friendly. The company had stressed that the decision was made based on restructuring it was going through, it has strategized to focus more on its built reputation in much bigger markets.

The company had recently laid off some of its employees due to the overlapping roles that occurred after the merger occurred. The number of staff laid off was not made public

Wasoko’s Ex-Employees Speaks On The Lay Off

“Similar to most businesses undergoing mergers, overlaps in positions occur at every level of a company’s structure, including its executive ranks,” Wasoko said.

But some of the workers argued that wasn’t the case. An anonymous person had said his mind and claimed most of the workers were let off because MaxAB had complained about the high number of Kenyans in the startup company.

“It is like the Kenyan team was swallowed after MaxAB’s arrival,” said the anonymous ex-employee. “Wasoko are saying they are not moving their headquarters, but all its top leaders in Kenya have left. While they call it a merger or equals, we do not see where the equals are.”

Wasoko had debunked the statement by saying “Both companies have been required to make similar adjustments as a result of this merger-of-equals. This has not been an easy process given many staff on both sides have been affected,”

Conclusion 

Some of the ex-employees had sued the company and accused them of giving just the bare minimum, which was against the country’s labor law. 

The company decided to go on this pause after several high-profile professionals left the company. After Wasoko merged with MaxAB, Josh Raine, one of the company’s co-founders left, followed by the CTO, in person of Tridiv Vasavada, then the CFO, Sundararaman Pattabiraman and the head of resources, Carolyne Mwaura. 

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Abdullahi Kafayat
Abdullahi Kafayat

Abdullahi Kafayat is an enthusiastic writer interested in the tech world. She's a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University and has a BSc in Chemistry. You can reach her at Kafayatabdullahi17@gmail.com.

Articles: 186

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