Nicknamed the Amazon of Africa, Jumia began as an ecommerce startup with ten employees when it launched in 2012. The company’s beginnings stem from its founders’ desire to align Nigeria with the rest of the technological age of the 21st century.
The business was founded by Tunde Kehinde and Raphael Afaedor, Nigerian and Ghanaian Harvard graduates respectively, alongside Jeremy Hadaro and Sacha Poignonnec who serve as managing directors. Describing the initial aims of the company, Poignonnec describes how their “goal was to prove that e-commerce was possible in Africa, that people would surf the internet in large enough numbers, find attractive offers, buy products and we would do everything in our power to deliver them”.
Around the time of its launch, Jumia was in direct competition with Nigerian online retailer Konga for the title of the face of Nigerian e-commerce. However, what sets Jumia apart from rival e-commerce businesses such as Konga, according to Poignonnec, is that they “are not afraid of losing money to reach our full potential.”
This philosophy is the basis for Jumia’s expansion to up to 13 other African countries including Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Senegal.
Formerly known as Africa Internet Group (AIG), Jumia was initially an online shopping website for electronic goods and fashion.
Fellow Managing Director and Founder, Kehinde explains that the decision to focus on retail ventures was a strategic one as, at the time, there were “160 million Nigerians” with “no organised retail… with 160 million Nigerians everyone is always going to need a shirt for an occasion, a phone to contact somebody or a book to read”.
Due to the fact that e-commerce in Nigeria was still an emerging industry in 2012, such a feat would have brought with it the need for significant investment and also a highly capable group of minds. Some of the investment to Jumia included Rocket Internet, JP Morgan, Summit Partners, MTN and Millicom.
In regards to talent, Kehinde described their selection pool as consisting of people from Harvard, MIT, Oxford, London Business School and various top-ranking universities across the world.
Since then, Jumia’s ventures have expanded. The establishment of Jumia Travel, Food, House and Car services were added to the company’s catalogue, further solidifying its position as Nigeria’s number one ecommerce company.
In 2014 it was announced that Kehinde and Afaedor resigned from their roles as co-CEOs of Jumia after what was a very successful year. They were soon replaced by Nicolas Martins and Jeremy Doutte, who are the current co-CEOs of the company.
The company has received numerous awards and accolades. Their first official achievement was in 2013 when Jumia Nigeria became the first African country to win the World Retail Award in 2013, with previous winners including ASOS and Zappos.com
In 2017, Jumia was ranked in MIT 50 Smartest Companies globally for the second consecutive time.
From its humble beginnings, Jumia celebrates its sixth anniversary as Africa’s first tech unicorn, as Africa’s largest ecommerce system, and a company valued over $1 billion.