COVID-19: IROKO Places 28% of Nigerian Staff on Unpaid Leave



IROKO, Nigerian video-on-demand (VoD) company has placed 28 percent of its team members on unpaid leave as it aims to minimise losses during the COVID-19 crisis.

According to IROKO, which sold ROK, its African film studio and global TV network, to the CANAL+ Group last year, has been hit hard by the economic implications of the crisis after initially being positive about the possible effects of the pandemic.

Jason Njoku, CEO of IROKO, said that in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak he had encouraged aggressive cost-cutting at all the startups that he is involved in excluding IROKO, as things seemed to be looking up for the VoD company at the time.

Initially, IROKO subscriber numbers were surging, with Njoku saying that it had set its highest daily addition record within the first couple of days of Nigeria’s lockdown.

All seemed to be going well up until Nigeria’s President Buhari extended the lockdown. After the announcement of the extension, consumer confidence seemed to collapse, and the numbers started dwindling.

This prompted IROKO to place on unpaid leave approximately 28 percent of its Nigerian team members, a total figure of 83 people, while an additional 49 individuals have taken a pay cut.

Njoku said that IROKO opted to furlough rather than to lay off staff in an effort to safeguard the business.

While the furloughed employees will be unpaid at this time, they still have access to IROKO’s health insurance. Njoku said that the company expects to still lose between US$200,000 and US$250,000 every month for the rest of the year.





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