Home » Netherlands private equity fund firm takes hit from Kenya startup failures

Netherlands private equity fund firm takes hit from Kenya startup failures

Netherlands-based private equity fund, DOB Equity has suffered substantial losses in the recent local startup implosion, hurting results for the family-backed impact investment fund in its Kenyan portfolio.

The PE fund which describes itself as a catalyst for social and environmental change across East Africa has technology-enabled firms Sendy, Copia and Twiga Foods in its portfolio according to disclosures on the firm’s website. The fund does not specify the stakes it holds in the firms.

The three firms have run into financial headwinds in recent months with the implosion likely resulting in losses to the tune of millions of US dollars for DOB.

Last week, for instance, e-commerce platform Copia which serves low to middle-income customers through a network of agents warned it could fire up to 1,060 workers due to lack of new capital needed to sustain its operations.

“Copia has been suffering financial constraints for some time. Despite our best efforts to navigate this challenge and explore avenues for additional funding, we find ourselves in a position where we must consider a far-reaching organisational restructuring to ensure the sustainability of our operations or even possible shutting down of our operations,” Copia Kenya CEO Tim Steel noted in a letter to employees.

In July last year, Copia cut 350 jobs highlighting an economic downturn and constrained capital markets.

Copia had just shut its operations in Uganda two months prior, citing similar factors while Copia Global said it had suspended the firm’s global expansion. Meanwhile, Twiga Foods announced in August last year that it would shed a third of its workforce as a cost-cutting measure.

The move caused jitters in the start-up sector given its presumed position as a market leader/benchmark.

Twiga however secured an undisclosed amount of funding towards the close of last year even as it implemented a leadership shakeup which saw its CEO Peter Njonjo proceeding on a six-month leave.

Logistics firm Sendy has seen the largest implosion of the three portfolio companies under DOB Equity, having fallen into administration in September last year after defaulting on its debt.

The High Court appointed PKF Consulting’s Peter Kahi to run the firm with the goal of first turning it around but with the possibility of liquidating its assets should rescue efforts stall.