Is Jumia, the largest startup in Africa, really African?

Indian e-commerce market flourishing

Jumia, a company that is making headlines as it has applied for an IPO in the New York stock exchange. The company is an e-commerce company to start with and works in Africa. The company has bases all around the world but only does business in Africa. It was founded in 2012 by two ex-Mckinsey employees. Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara are the founders of this company and they launched operations in 2012.

There are multiple platforms of Jumia. There are platforms such as Jumia Pay, Jumia Travel, Jumia Food and many more. The most used out of those was Jumia One which allowed users to pay various bills through one app. There is also a Jumia lending program which is also exploited by many people. Jumia has also partnered with Amadeus which has enabled users to book flights through its app as well.

This company is present in as many as 14 countries in Africa. The countries have the likes of Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya among others. The company started out from Lagos in 2012 and has worked its way from there. It is one of the most exploited companies in Africa and has become one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the continent. Jumia started its e-commerce company in 2018 when it partnered with Carrefour.

Jumia Nigeria remains to be its most profitable subsidiary. In 2015, the company appointed Juliet Anannah as the CEO of Jumia Nigeria. In her first year, she helped the company rake in $234 million in revenue which was a growth of over 265% from 2014 to 2015. The profit was so huge that the company became the first ever unicorn of Africa. It became the biggest startup in Africa. In 2018, November, the company even partnered with cryptocurrency company Telcoin to boost its payment options.

The company has now filed for an Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange. If the filing is approved, Jumia might become the first ever company coming from Africa to be listed on the NY stock exchange. That said, there are people questioning its African identity as only its operations are in Africa. The company is founded by two French enthusiasts, its tech team is situated in Portugal, the headquarters of the company are in Dubai and it is incorporated in Germany.

This makes everything a little fuzzy as it will pay most of its taxes in Germany but has filed for an IPO in New York. There are questions over everything as the company calls itself African although only its operations are in Africa. However, this might not be a problem for it being a public company if the filings are in order.

-Unmesh Phule

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