E-Commerce Firm Jumia Goes Public

Jumia, an e-commerce platform, went public on the New York Stock Exchange in mid-April and immediately reached a valuation of over one billion dollars. While branded by the media as “the first African tech startup" critics asked whether it was genuinely African and whether it represented a sound investment. 

Jumia claims to have four million dedicated users, of which about a third are in Nigeria, the company’s largest market. But the company lost one billion dollars between 2012 and 2018 and remains cashflow negative. Sacha Poignonnec, the firm’s CEO, in an interview focussed on the company’s future prospects. 

While Africans are its largest cluster of customers, Jumia is incorporated in Germany and headquartered in Dubai. This has led critics to question the company’s African status. The firm has responded that it caters mostly to Africans and that its African character emerges from this fact. 

Another tech firm of foreign origin but oriented to African clients, is Boomplay, a Spotify-style music streaming startup, which has an 85 per cent African clientele. The firm is today adding two million new customers a month and has a strong African bent to its music collection. Boomplay is a joint venture by Chinese phone maker Transsion and Chinese consumer apps maker NetEase. It recently raised $ 20 million from investors. 

What makes us African is our exclusive focus on African consumers, says Jumia’s co-founder

Boomplay, a Spotify-style music and video streaming service for African music and Africa, raises $20M

 

April 30, 2019

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About the Author

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri writes on political, security, and economic issues. He previously wrote for the Statesman and the Telegraph in Calcutta. He served on the National Security Advisory Board of the Indian government from 2011-2015. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the Asia Society Global Council, the Aspen Institute Italia, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Mont Pelerin Society. Pramit is also a senior associate of Rhodium Group, New York City, advisor to the Bower Group Asia in India, a member of the Council on Emerging Markets, Washington, DC, and a delegate for the Confederation of Indian Industry-Aspen Strategy Group Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue and the Ananta Aspen Strategic Dialogues with Japan, China and Israel. Born in 1964, he has visited over fifty countries on five continents. Mr. Pal Chaudhuri is a history graduate from Cornell University.