Jumia, a leading e-commerce platform in Africa, has been making waves in the business world with its mission to improve the lives of millions of people on the continent. I had the pleasure of speaking with Jumia’s co-CEO, Sacha Poignonnec, about the company’s journey, its future plans, and the unique challenges and opportunities of operating in Africa.
Jumia was founded in 2012 in Lagos, Nigeria, with the goal of revolutionizing the way people shop online in Africa. Since then, the company has expanded to operate in 11 African countries, offering a wide range of products, including electronics, fashion, and household goods.
Poignonnec, who co-founded Jumia with fellow French entrepreneur Jeremy Hodara, says that the company’s success can be attributed to its ability to solve real problems for African 247sports consumers. “The biggest challenge in Africa is logistics,” he explains. “In a lot of places, there’s no formal addressing system, so getting products to customers can be very difficult.”
To address this challenge, Jumia has invested heavily in its own logistics network, building a fleet of delivery vehicles and setting up its own distribution centers. “We have more than 200 warehouses across Africa,” Poignonnec says. “We have more than 30,000 delivery agents who use our platform to make deliveries. And we have our own last-mile delivery service, Jumia Express, which allows us to offer same-day and next-day delivery to customers in certain areas.”
But logistics is just one of the challenges of operating in Africa. Poignonnec says that the continent’s highly fragmented market also makes it difficult for companies to scale up. “Africa is made up of 54 different countries, each with its own language, culture, and legal system,” he says. “This makes it challenging to build a business that can operate across the continent.”
To overcome this challenge, Jumia has adopted a hyper-local approach to its business, tailoring its products and services to the unique needs of each market it operates in. “We don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach,” Poignonnec says. “We have teams on the ground in each country who understand the local market and can adapt our strategy dseklmsspace accordingly.”
Jumia’s hyper-local approach has paid off. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019, becoming the first African unicorn to list on a major global exchange. However, Jumia’s journey hasn’t been without its challenges. The company has faced criticism for its high customer acquisition costs and for failing to turn a profit since its founding.
Poignonnec acknowledges that Jumia’s focus on growth has come at a cost, but he says that the company is now shifting its focus to becoming polyvore profitable. “We’ve invested a lot in customer acquisition and in building our logistics network,” he says. “But now that we have a large customer base and a strong logistics infrastructure, we’re focused on improving our unit economics and becoming profitable.”
Part of Jumia’s strategy for achieving profitability is to expand into new business lines. The company has already launched several new services, including JumiaPay, a mobile payment platform, and JumiaFood, a food delivery service. Poignonnec says that Jumia is also exploring opportunities in areas such as insurance and healthcare.
“Ultimately, our goal is to become a one-stop-shop for everything people need in their daily lives,” he says. “We want to be the platform that people turn to for all their needs, whether it’s shopping, paying bills, or accessing healthcare services.”
Looking to the future, Poignonnec is optimistic about the opportunities that Africa presents.