What Makes Jumia An African Startup?

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli

E-commerce platform Jumia is incorporated in Germany, based in Dubai, its central tech team is in Portugal and it’s about to list on the New York Stock Exchange. How is it an African company?

One element of the business clearly makes it an African startup. Its market is primarily in Africa, according to Ventureburn.

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The company operates in 14 African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt.

It has leveraged that market to grow to the point where it is considered Africa’s first tech unicorn, valued at over $1 billion in 2016 after an $83 million investment from insurance company AXA for an 8 percent stake, according to Crunchbase.

That valuation will be confirmed later in 2019 when Jumia becomes the first African startup to list on the New York Stock Exchange, with a listing price valuing the company at around $1.1 billion, according to DailyMaverick.

Jumia e-commerce platform
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

While that is a boost for the tech and e-commerce industry in Africa, Jumia’s identity is far more global than many realize.

Jumia’s global identity

Deciding to list in New York rather than Nigeria or South Africa or even the London Stock Exchange where African companies are more used to listing is a sign of a truly global company.

The e-commerce platform is incorporated in Germany, and its headquarters are in Dubai, Quartz reports.

Its central tech team is based in Portugal, rather than on the African continent, according to LinkedIn.

Jumia’s listing in New York is certainly good for the startup and Africa as a tech market for investors, but the company risks losing more of its identity as an African business if investor-led global growth means that Africa does not remain its primary market in future.