mPharma sets agenda post-layoff, halts work-from-home

mPharma, a Ghanaian healthtech company, has restructured its approach in the wake of the layoffs it implemented in September, which now entails discontinuing remote work.

mPharma sets agenda post-layoff, halts work-from-home
Gregory Rockson, co-founder and CEO of mPharma

In September, mPharma laid off 150 employees, according to Gregory Rockson, the Ghanaian healthtech CEO, “We took the difficult decision to right-size the team, in light of the current macroeconomic conditions driven by the devaluation of the Naira.”

mPharma also disclosed that it intends to double down on its online pharmacy offering, Mutti. “This decision will allow us to continue to serve the over 200,000 patients who rely on our Mutti services for their healthcare needs each month,” Rockson said. The company hopes to increase the annual count to two million at the end of this year.

Currently, the startup is present in nine African countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Gabon and Ethiopia. It is important to note that 40 of its employees in Nigeria were affected by the layoffs.

Since its launch, mPharmas has raised over $90 million. When it raised a $30 million Series D last year, the startup said it would hire “100 engineers to build all our technology in-house and this includes a massive data infrastructure we are creating. We are also investing in other skilled talents like doctors and nurses, professionals that are critical in the work we do.” Some of these hires have likely been affected by the September layoffs, mPharma's first.

On Tuesday, two months after the layoffs, mPharma held an in-house meeting to discuss how to “build back better”. During the meeting, Gregory Rockson outlined five key strategies that will drive the startup's growth going forward, especially as it relates to the workforce.

Despite raising millions of dollars in venture capital, Rockson disclosed that mPharma will now operate as though it has raised zero financing. “[We will] spend money on only essentials that will bring us revenue and profit. If $1 spent does not bring back $2 in revenue, we won't spend the money,” he said.

The CEO further disclosed that the Ghanaian startup is pivoting from a work-from-home arrangement to hybrid. According to Rockson, “Everyone will be expected to work from the office at least three days a week. [We will] reduce virtual team meetings and increase in-person.”

mPharma five-point agenda to build back better.

Other strategies to be adopted by mPharma, include: hiring slow but firing fast due to zero tolerance for non-performance. “Everyone will be stretched to their limits [...] stop anything that distracts you or leave mPharma to focus on that,” the document which was shared during the in-house meeting stated. and posted on X by Rockson.

The Ghanaian tech entrepreneur has come under fire with several commentators alleging the rise of a toxic work culture. “Building a company is not easy but my question is what are your plans to balance the rule of "firing fast" creating a culture of fear and toxicity over safety and excellence? From what I know, when people feel safe, they can give their best,” says Selikem Komla, another tech entrepreneur.

However, Rockson maintains that “the road ahead will be long, painful but fun”.

Get weekly insights on tech startups and VC in Africa