Agri-tech firm Twiga Foods says 117 of its former employees took up its offer to partner with them as sales agents after the company laid off 221 workers as part of a cost-cutting and business transformation strategy.
The company’s chief executive Peter Njonjo said the firm plans to aggressively scale up its base of independent sales representatives.
“Previously we had a sales team employed under fixed salaries, the number of people we had employed under fixed salaries was 211 and after changing our business model, we wanted to create independent agents who would engage with customers and earn a commission,” Mr Njonjo said.
The transition to the agent model saw the employees’ contracts with Twiga terminated effective November 30, 2022.
The company said it is onboarding a total of 400 agents and about 3,000 people have shown interest in the role so far.
The model seeks to reward the effort and enterprise of the agent based on higher earnings.
“By March next year we want to ensure the number of agents who work with Twiga is over 1,000 so this was more around the change in the business model and for that to happen, we created redundancies of the 211 salespeople,” added Mr Njonjo.
The company had said those who will not accept appointment as agents will not be required to work as trade development representatives during the one-month notice period to enable them to seek alternative engagements.
“We had to pay redundancies, notice, and accrued leave days as per the labour act,” Mr Njonjo said.
Twiga foods' downsizing plans came amid plans to expand to the west and central African market in a five-year plan.
The agri-tech firm had October stopped its engagement with expatriates who were offering different services across various departments. The company has raised Sh17 billion ($140 million) in capital since its inception.
The startup launched a new farming subsidiary, Twiga Fresh for farming onions, tomatoes and watermelons.