Leadership commitments were no match for corporate restructuring as George Soros’ torch-pass to his son included massive layoffs for the billionaire’s global network.
The spooky dude’s junior successor, Alex Soros, who took control of the grant-making network Open Society Foundation (OSF) in December 2022 and his father’s operations in June, ushered in a second restructuring within three years time. Now, according to emails reviewed by Bloomberg, the $25 billion international network is shaving 40% of its workforce, paring it down to a fraction of what it was just two years earlier.
In one message sent out by OSF vice president of programs Binaifer Nowrojee, it was stated, “We no longer have the bandwidth to operate multiple small offices, and thus the decision to further reduce our locations.”
“With the decision by the board in June to cut the staff by more than 40 percent, our staffing size and footprint by necessity needs to diminish,” wrote Nowrojee.
Details on the cuts included the shuttering of offices in half a dozen locations across one continent according to an email from OSF Africa Executive Director Muthoni Wanyeki. They included Abuja, Nigeria; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Cape Town; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Kampala, Uganda and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Meanwhile, offices in Dakar, Senegal; Johannesburg, South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya would remain open.
“I’m very sorry that it’s turned out this way,” wrote Wanyeki to staff as she contended the decision wasn’t what leadership “committed to two years ago.”
“It’s obviously not what any of us expected and I’m also very sorry that I didn’t have the information on this earlier,” she indicated.
In a September interview with Bloomberg, OSF President Mark Malloch-Brown contended that the latest restructuring was geared at making the foundation more “nimble” and the staff reduction would leave them with less than 500 people on payroll when in 2021 there had been nearly 1,700 employees.
Part of the restructuring included shifting to regional offices but, instead of providing opportunities for employees who wished to stay on to transfer, Wanyeki informed staff they were welcome to apply for roles “within their jurisdiction.”
“You would be expected to move and would also be responsible for your own relocation,” she said of the charity organization’s decision on the matter.
Out of $1 billion worth of annual grants, $100 million were said to be doled out across Africa. However, reports suggested there could be a change in OSF awards as an August note to grantees was said to state they “will largely terminate funding within the European Union, and further funding will be extremely limited.”
“It’s news to me that OSF is leaving Europe,” the younger Soros had said at a September conference in Austria challenging that notion. “It was reported in various outlets that that’s the case but we’re simply changing our strategy.”