Estonia-based ride-hailing platform Bolt has laid off 17 out of its 70 employees in Nigeria, with sources suggesting that the move affected mostly junior and mid-senior members of the operations team, including city managers.
This information was disclosed by a close source to Bolt, who spoke to reporters on Tuesday.
According to the statement, “Bolt had to terminate work contracts with 17 of its employees in Nigeria due to a strategy initiated to improve our operational processes in the country. ” “This was certainly not an easy decision to make, and we completely understand the frustration of the affected employees.”
The layoffs happened despite a recent promise of job security from the company’s CEO, Markus Villig. One employee who spoke to the press on the condition of anonymity stated that there have been some restructuring talks making the rounds internally since last year. According to the employees, management later confirmed this when it informed them of a possible restructuring that would most likely result in internal team reshuffling and the creation of new roles and departments but “would not result in the loss of any employee’s job.” They lied.
On February 16, employees said they got an email inviting them to a February 20 company-wide meeting from their regional manager. “What most of us expected was an update on whether we’d be joining a new team or relocating to a new city,” one of the affected employees explained. “We are instead informed of the decision to cut headcounts. The regional manager told us that ‘affected team members will be contacted to discuss exits and severance’.”
These layoffs were not done based on performance, as some affected employees were in some of their best hands; rather, the company cited redundancy. Bolt currently operates in more than 20 cities in Nigeria, “where could the redundancies be with just 70 people?” asked one of the affected employees.
The company recently pledged to invest about $500 million into its African operations to expand its operations on the continent and create opportunities for over 300,000 new drivers and couriers to join the platform in 2023.