West African fintech startup, Wave Mobile Money Group, laid off 15% of its staff last month.
This comes as a surprise because Wave seems to be doing good in recent times.
In the first quarter of this year, Wave Digital Finance, a subsidiary of Wave became the first non-bank, non-telecom operator that operates in multiple WAEMU markets to be granted an E-money (EME) license by the Central Bank of the West African States—BCEAO, “signalling a growing recognition of a new age of financial inclusion models led by Fintechs such as Wave”.
The co-founders of Wave, Drew Durbin and Lincoln Quirk first built Sendwave, one of the largest digital remittance companies in Africa, which was acquired by WorldRemit for about $500 million in cash and stock, before building Wave to decentralise digital finance across the continent.
Wave is backed by Y Combinator, Stripe, Partech, Founders Fund, Ribbit Capital and Sequoia. Till date, the startup has raised over $290 million in equity and debt capital funding and as of September last year, the startup was valued at $1.7 billion after raising $200 million.
Jessica Chervin, who announced that she will be leaving Wave by the end of July via her LinkedIn page wrote:
“In search of my next opportunity: I am leaving Wave Mobile Money at the end of July. Like many tech companies, Wave is adjusting rapidly to the jarring changes in capital markets in recent months and like the best of them (and importantly, as a financial institution), it has had to make very hard calls in order to ensure that it can continue to serve customers in existing markets now and long into the future. This vital shift in strategic priorities means that I and many others are leaving Wave far earlier than anyone had hoped.”
A spokesperson affirmed that 300 employees, most of whom were at the Burkina Faso, Mali and Uganda new branches of Wave, were highly affected.
Wave wants to ensure it does not have to depend on new funding at a time when investors around the world are cutting back. Its decision to pull out from newer markets will help the company double down on its Senegal and Ivory Coast operations, where Wave has already been established as a market leader in mobile money with growing businesses. It will continue to serve its new markets.