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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.9079
    JPY
    USD
    106.10
    GBP
    USD
    0.7636
    CAD
    USD
    1.3106
    INR
    USD
    67.076

    Rates may not be current.