Two women leads the flagship of Africa’s first Unicorn

Jumia, Africa’s biggest e-commerce platform, is set to become an equivalent of Amazon in Africa, a continent with tremendous opportunities – its online population will reach 50% by 2025 and its smartphone owners will rise to 360 million.

Last week or thereabout, Jumia was on the news for good reasons. It secured a second investment of €225 million from Goldman Sachs and existing investors, MTN and Rocket Internet.

Earlier in the month, the company announced that a new investor, French insurer AXA has joined the group for an 8% stake and €75 million. Africa Internet Group, the parent company of Jumia, has thus become the first African Unicorn with a valuation of more than a 1 billion euros.

If Jumia is present in 11 countries in Africa, Nigeria is the country where it all started and is now the flagship both in terms of market size and business performance with up to 135,000 orders in one day during last year’s Black Friday.

More fascinating still, its top leadership in Nigeria is 100% female, which is historical in many ways with two African women leading an Internet & Retail company with a record valuation and performance. To many extents, this is observed as an outstanding achievement as the entire world is celebrating International Women’s Day.

Juliet Anammah and Fatoumata Ba, albeit coming from different backgrounds, have joined forces to lead Jumia Nigeria towards greatness. Juliet Anammah, comes with more than 15 years’ experience in consulting with leading firm Accenture in Nigeria while Senegalese-born Fatoumata Ba led Nigeria’s largest online retailer earlier on in 2015 after having first founded and successfully grown Jumia in Ivory Coast since 2013.

Interviewed for Women’s Day, both women talked about their vision on gender parity, most particularly in the tech world, and on leading Africa’s first unicorn’s flagship:

“Performance, Passion, People: those are the three words I live by on a daily basis,” commented Fatoumata Ba on her leadership style at Jumia Nigeria.

She added, “For me my greatest achievement is yet to come. Leading Jumia Nigeria is not a destination but a step towards something even bigger as Africa Internet Group is literally shaping the Internet experience on the continent. To all phenomenal women in the workspace, my advice is simple: stand up and stand out!”

Advising the women folks, Juliet Anammah said, “Show up. 90% of success is showing up. You’ll never have all the answers nor will you slay every dragon on your path but once you show up you’ll find that sometimes obstacles become the way.”

If the leading duo is impressive, it is not the sole example of women leaders at Africa Internet Group which champions gender parity across countries and ventures. Indeed, Jumia has one of the highest proportion of women leaders in Africa and globally, with a whopping 40% women managers, managing directors or CEOs.

CEO Jumia Africa, Jeremy Doutte commented on this figure by saying, “At Jumia, we nurture one value: “Let the best ideas and people grow”. Diversity is not a goal for Jumia, neither is gender parity. Diversity and gender parity are a reality at Jumia Africa. This has been achieved by letting all talents blossom, and women have benefited from our equal opportunity environment. Jumia has extremely talented women at all levels of the organization, across all countries. Our companies in Kenya and in Nigeria are led and managed by women and they are doing fantastically well. We truly believe this is just the beginning.”

The company has as such promoted various actions to empower women within its walls as well as throughout Nigerian communities. Some of its women-targeted initiatives includes the following:

  • Jumia’s JForce Program is reaching out to disadvantaged women and giving them financial independence: the program now comprises 16,000 women, the majority of which are housewives and stay at home mothers. The program aims at empowering and enriching entrepreneurs-to-be with the full support of an established brand, giving the opportunity to mothers to contribute to the household earnings. Women now represent 34% of the JForce Program.
  • Jumia promotes small women entrepreneurs through its seller centre: we offer them a distribution platform and thorough trainings which will help them grow their businesses.
  • Jumia supports local women empowerment organizations such as Project Alert in Lagos and SheLeadsAfrica. Jumia organized informative sessions on our Seller and JForce programs to help women of Project Alert (victims of domestic violence) understand the opportunities that e-commerce open to them. We have also collaborated with SheLeadsAfrica, a platform for women entrepreneurs which built for us a series of trainings specifically designed for our JForce and Seller Center women members.
  • Jumia has also committed to improving gender parity within its own walls by creating the Africa Internet Group Women Committee, led by managing director of Jumia Nigeria Fatoumata Ba. The committee is there to protect women against any form of harassment they could experiment in the workforce as well as provide career counselling and mentoring.

Jumia, founded in 2012 and headquartered in Cairo, Egypt, houses a wide assortment of top-notch products at affordable prices.

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