News / Economy

High-Tech and Low-Tech, Nigerian E-Commerce Starting to Click

High-Tech and Low-Tech, Nigerian E-Commerce Starting to Clicki
X
December 19, 2013 9:24 AM
A common complaint in Nigeria is that things just don't work. In a climate of confusion, how does Jumia, a savvy new Internet company styled like Amazon.com, manage to ship everything from lipstick to laser printers across the country? Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Heather Murdock
— A common complaint in Nigeria is that things just don't work. The phones don't work, the Internet is down and the man who fixes your car is nowhere to be found. In this climate of confusion, how does Jumia, a savvy new internet company styled like Amazon.com, manage to ship everything from lipstick to laser printers across the country?
 
Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, is famous for, among other things, bad traffic and Internet scams. 
 
When a few young men here cooked up the idea of opening an Internet retail shop in early 2012, they thought they could use both to their advantage. 
 
Retail shoppers would happily stay home to avoid traffic, and Nigeria didn’t gain its infamy for Internet scams by being computer illiterate. At a warehouse near the Lagos airport, Jumia Managing Director Tunde Kehinde says that when they started, not everyone saw these qualities as advantages.
 
“Recruiting the initial team was tough and getting suppliers to trust us because everyone -- customers and suppliers -- are skeptical about anything online in this part of the world,” recalled Kehinde.
 
Initially, it took the startup four weeks to get the site online and to start delivering.   But even once they were online, they couldn’t convince Nigerians to enter their credit card numbers into the website, said Raphael Afaedor, another co-founder of Jumia.
 
“We are not going to grow by actually waiting for people to get comfortable with paying online, so we came up with pay on delivery, where we actually take the product to the person from our warehouse and then the person pays once they see and touch the product,” explained Afaedor.
 
He said the company started with five motorcycles and a dream to be the largest retailer in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest market and home to over 160 million people. 
 
They still have a long way to go, but they now have more than 150 vehicles, 600 employees and deliver thousands of items a day.
 
Like their Western counterpart, Amazon.com, Jumia sells a broad range of items from shoes to booze. 
 
Unlike Amazon, retailers in Nigeria have to deal with the bad roads, crazy traffic, daily power outages and the widespread corruption that make it hard to do business here.
 
Kehinde said Jumia has managed to grow fast because it has always factored these challenges into their business plan. For example, they dispatch items on motorcycles so they can deliver to homes that aren't near viable roads. 
 
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Africa is open for business, but just don’t copy and paste. Come, learn, localize and grow,” said Kehinde.
 
E-commerce is still new to Nigerians, but Jumia already competes with two other websites: Konga.com and DealDey.com. 
 
Jumia investors have also opened online shopping centers in Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Kenya.
 
Jumia workers call themselves “Jumians” and are on average about 27 years old. 
 
Wealthy Nigerians from their parents’ generation shop in London, they say. They hope rich and middle-class Nigerians of their generation will soon start shopping in Nigeria.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.