B2C platform Copia suspends operations in Uganda due to ‘downturn’

By our News Team | 2023

Expansion plans for Rwanda and Tanzania also on hold as company re-focuses its efforts on the Kenyan market.

Copia, the Kenyan-based B2C buying platform, has suspended its business operations in Uganda – less than two years after entering the market and only months after opening a 2,230m2 logistics hub in Kampala to serve 14 districts in the country.

The global economic downturn and constrained capital markets have been cited as reasons for Copia pausing its African expansion plans, which until recently included moves into Rwanda and Tanzania.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Instead, Copia will now focus on its core market of Kenya. The market is highly competitive when it comes to online buying platforms serving both the B2C and B2B grocery markets. Among the players are Jumia, Twiga, Wasoko, Marketforce, TopUp Mama and Omnibiz.

“Given [that] the economic downturn and constrained capital markets are expected to continue for some time, Copia plans to double down on efforts to drive our founding Kenya business to sustainable, scaled profitability,” the company said in a statement.

Assure short-term profitability and long-term success

Added CEO Tim Steel: “This is the right move for Copia given the market environment … by focusing our resources on our Kenyan business, we can assure short-term profitability and long-term success. This means pausing our international expansion plans, including suspending our Ugandan operation.”  

According to the technology news website TechCabal, Copia has notified its agents and customers in Uganda of its departure and is already paying out outstanding commissions to agents. More than 350 employees will be impacted by the decision to leave Uganda. The firm says affected employees have been provided with a severance package.

At the time of entering the Ugandan market in 2021, Copie’s founder, Tracey Turner, noted: “Uganda has one of the fastest-growing middle classes in the world with a hard-working population and a dynamic entrepreneurial culture. Copia is designed specifically to serve this high-growth but underserved consumer base who want access to high-quality products at the best prices.”

Says the website Tech in Africa: “Copia started in Kenya in 2013. It uses mobile technology, a network of local agents, and its operations to reach a market that traditional retail and Western e-commerce models can’t. It gives thousands of customers daily access to high-quality goods sold at the lowest prices on the market and shipped to them for free.”