Africa’s 1st Tech Unicorn Jumia Files For New York Stock Exchange Listing

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Jumia
Tunde Kehinde , Co-Founder and Managing Director @ Jumia Nigeria | Photos from the WTO Public Forum 2018 photo gallery may be reproduced provided attribution is given to the WTO and the WTO is informed. Photos: © WTO/Jay Louvion

Nigeria-based e-commerce company Jumia has filed documents with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission for a long-awaited initial public offering. If all goes smoothly, Jumia will be the first venture-backed African tech company valued at more than $1 billion to list on a major global stock exchange.

Still to be determined are Jumia’s valuation on the NYSE, its share price and the date when public stock sales will be for sale.

There are also no guarantees, based on past performance, that Jumia will make a profit anytime soon, Quartz reported.

Jumia claims to be the only e-commerce company operating successfully in multiple African regions, and has 4 million active customers —
people who bought something at least once in the past year — as of December 2018. A pan-African e-commerce conglomerate, Jumia’s businesses include financial services, search engine, food and beverage and travel.

Germany-based Rocket Internet owned 21.74 percent of Jumia as of the end of 2018 and MTN Group held 31.28 percent. Smaller shareholders have included Millicom International, AXA Africa Holding, Orange and Goldman Sachs.


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Total funding for Jumia so far is $767.7 million, according to Crunchbase. The company reached a billion-dollar valuation in 2016 after an $83 million investment from insurance company AXA for 8 percent stake.

Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Berenberg and RBC Capital Markets are leading the IPO, according to Business Of Fashion.

The SEC filing shows Jumia’s losses far exceed the revenue it has generated — a familiar problem for some of the biggest tech companies in the world.

Uber, which has yet to turn a profit, is preparing to go public in 2019.

Jumia’s losses grew to almost $1 billion as of December 2018. The company said in its SEC filing that there’s no guarantee it will “achieve or sustain profitability” or “pay any cash dividends” in the foreseeable future.

The company also has competition from South African rival Takealot and Egypt’s Souq.com, and said this could impact its business.

Several ecommerce startups failed in Nigeria including Konga.com, an early Jumia competitor. Konga’s backers included Naspers and $100 million in venture capital. It sold in a distressed acquisition in 2018, Tech Crunch reported.

Founded in Lagos in 2012 with backing from Rocket Internet, Jumia operates in 14 African countries including Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Egypt.

The most popular items on Jumia’s ecommerce site include smartphones (priced from $80 to $100), washing machines, fashion items, women’s hair care products and 32-inch TVs, Jumia Nigeria CEO Juliet Anammah told TechCrunch.

Based on the experience of other global startups, “online retail can be a game of capital attrition to outpace competitors and reach critical mass before turning a profit,” Jake Bright reported for Tech Crunch. “With its unicorn status and pending windfall from an NYSE listing, Jumia could be better positioned than any venture to win on e-commerce at scale in Africa.”


About Dana Sanchez

Dana Sanchez was born in South Africa and is a U.S. citizen. After working in advertising, she went back to school and earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of South Florida. As a business writer, she won regional and national writing awards. As editor of a daily newspaper, she coordinated staff writers, freelancers and photographers in the fast-paced environment of daily news. Dana was an editor at Moguldom Media Group for four years, helping to build and manage a team of staff and freelance writers. She works now on Moguldom.com for Nubai Ventures. A long-distance hiker and cyclist, she writes about the business of technology.