Yesterday was the last working day for the 50-person team of stuff site Efritin.com in Nigeria and rumors were doing the rounds (this report) that the site will be closed down after senior managers in Nigeria have allegedly mismanaged and defrauded the site (here is a report on the allegations).
Earlier today, we approached Saltside Technologies for comment.
In an interview with us, Nils Hammar, Saltside Technologies founder and CEO, confirmed that Efritin.com had retrenched all its employees in Nigeria – a team of around 50 people. But, he added, the site continues to operate, and will be run from outside the country.
Hammar did not want to comment on the accusations of fraud and their legal aftermath, but emphasized strongly that these accusations were not behind Saltside’s decision to scale down in Nigeria.
“It is incorrect to say that we are closing and pulling the plug. What we are doing, is to sharply reduce our investment in Nigeria, which means that all staff has had to leave.
“But, it does not mean the site will close. Efritin will be run from a distance. We have teams in several locations which will help out,” he said.
“In Nigeria, we have in recent times not really gone (full-out) for a market leading position. (Instead) we tried to find evidence that the investment will be worthwhile. We made an honest attempt to make it work in Nigeria.
“We saw many promising signs, but at the same time (we noted) it was not the right time to focus and invest big in Nigeria. A marketplace is a micro cosmos of the general economy. If the economy as a whole slows down, then the classifieds can be hurt. The economy of Nigeria has been in a bad shape the last couple of years.
“Another aspect of Nigeria, is that the data cost is very high, which makes it tougher to run our kind of business there,” said Hammar.
So, what about the fraud accusations?
“That has nothing to do with our decision,” Hammar emphasized strongly. “We are not doing this, because of the (alleged) fraud, or the accusations (of fraud). It has nothing to do with this decision.”
Will this decision be followed by similar steps in other markets?
“No, our other markets are doing splendidly,” Hammar replied confidently.
To the question whether Saltside might be looking for new investors, he replied: “We have very good investors and our cash position is still strong.”