ChipperCash, the pan-African fintech that became Africa’s seventh unicorn in November last year, has now laid off a considerable chunk of its staff.
This comes barely a year after the company raised 150 million dollars at a two billion dollars valuation, a round that was led by the now embattled crypto company FTX.
At the time of reporting, it hadn’t been confirmed the exact percentage of its staff was let go. Still, Erin Fusaro, the vice president of engineering at ChipperCash, said in a LinkedIn post today that “a significant amount” of the members of the engineering and IT teams were gutted in the layoff.
“This morning, a significant amount of Chipper staff were let go in a layoff,” Fusaro’s LinkedIn post reads in part. “While I was not among them, many of my close colleagues and friends were. If you’re looking for talented engineering leadership, engineers, technical program managers, analysts, or IT staff, please comment here and I’ll do my best to start connecting people,” she said.
She also added that many on the team are now in search of new roles underscoring that the layoff was sudden and unexpected by the staff.
“To those let go today, please feel free and welcome to DM me, I’ll help you find a soft spot to land if I can,” she said.
ChipperCash, the latest addition to the layoff season
Layoffs have been rocking the African tech ecosystem all year, the residue of a terrible first quarter for Silicon Valley’s top-performing companies. Many companies have also had to let go of staff or pause hiring altogether.
In the African ecosystem, companies like Sendy, Lazerpay, SWVL and many others have laid off a significant percentage of their staff. Some others, including SafeBoda, just last week announced that they will be exiting Nigerian and focusing on Uganda, where they have a more extensive operation with mass appeal.
As companies were making public their earnings after the first quarter, many of which underperformed, Y Combinator, one of the premier technology startup accelerators that have produced the likes of Paystack, in a letter titled “Economic Downturn,” advice its startup founders to reduce their spending and not be too expectant of new funding.
“If your plan is to raise money in the next 6-12 months, you might be raising at the peak of the downturn. Remember that your chances of success are extremely low even if your company is doing well. We recommend you change your plan,” the letter from Y Combinator reads in part.
Giants like Google and Uber have announced this year that they will pause their hiring. At Meta, the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, the CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come under fire from investors for his ambitious spending on the metaverse, an investment that is not likely to yield an immediate return in profit.
The news of this layoff comes after a very tough year for the ecosystem but significantly tougher for ChipperCash as the Central Bank of Kenya instructed all financial institutions in the country to desist from dealing with it in July, hours after it said that ChipperCash was not licensed for operation in Kenya. That immediately upended partnerships that ChipperCash had invested its resources into.
The CBK’s bank supervision deputy director, Matu Mugo, in a letter that was at the time directed to all regulated banks, microfinance and mortgage finance institutions that ChipperCash had been providing money remittance and payments services products in the country without the appropriate licence.
“It has come to the attention of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) that Flutterwave Payments Technology Limited and Chipper Technologies Kenya (Chipper) have been engaging in money remittance and payments services without licensing and authorization by CBK…You are therefore directed to immediately cease and desist from dealing with Flutterwave and Chipper.”
At the time of this reporting, ChipperCash hadn’t officially commented on the layoff.
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