Recently listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and considered to be Africa’s first startup to achieve that feat, e-commerce platform Jumia has been slammed by Africans for having two French top executives, headquarters in Germany and Dubai and developers in Portugal.
Its CEO, Sacha Poignonnec, incurred the wrath of many others during an interview on CNBC where he explained why the company’s technical talents were Europeans. “The reality is, in Africa there is not enough developers… We know that and we need to collectively address that because everything should be in Africa.”
Jumia’s CEO Sacha Poignonnec says says Africa doesn’t have enough developers that’s why they don’t hire them locally. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/D2wU76lawt
— Dan Riro 🇰🇪 (@Danfar_) April 14, 2019
His statement generated the hashtag #JumiaIsNotAfrican to take away the Africa tag associated with the company which was co-founded in 2012 and valued at more than $1 billion.
Many Africans have expressed serious reservations on social media against Jumia’s identity and seeming exploitation of the African market to promote their European agenda.
“Some of us are getting riled up about Jumia being considered to be African. It’s not for nothing. This colonial type business model is not new. Jumia is the modern day CFAO,” tweeted Cameroonian tech entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong.
Some of us are getting riled up about Jumia being considered to be African. It’s not for nothing. This colonial type business model is not new. Jumia is the modern day CFAO. If you don’t know the history, here it is: https://t.co/idpEIpbYZf #JumiaIsNotAfrican
— Rebecca Enonchong (@africatechie) April 14, 2019
“We are upset because there is a painful not too distant history there. We don’t want this reproduced in our startup ecosystem. We welcome foreign founders to work side by side in our ecosystem. But we don’t want them to represent us, to speak for us, to pass for us,” she added.
We are upset because there is a painful not too distant history there. We don’t want this reproduced in our startup ecosystem. We welcome foreign founders to work side by side in our ecosystem. But we don’t want them to represent us, to speak for us, to pass for us.
— Rebecca Enonchong (@africatechie) April 14, 2019
“My standard for saying a startup is African is simple: the idea originates from Africa and it is founded by an African,” Nigerian tech veteran and investor, Victor Asemota, told Quartz Africa.
He also lamented about the use of African affiliation as a prop by some foreign companies. “Their real ambition is to gain quick recognition,” he is quoted as saying.
Jumia operates in 14 countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Algeria, Angola, and Senegal where its offices are occupied by local staff and country heads.
Co-founders Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara, two former employees of McKinsey, opened their first shop in Nigeria in 2012 alongside Nigerian Tunde Kehinde and Ghanaian Raphael Kofi Afaedor who both left the company in 2015.
Here are some reactions to Jumia’s European identity by Africans who believe that a company cannot be African because its primary market is the continent.
Jumia is not African startup. It is a company duly incorporated in Germany by 2 French founders who are Co-CEOs. A non-exhaustive reference to its Germanness can be found here in their Form F-1 filings with the SEC. https://t.co/bpTnp0k0o9 A ka thread for those who don’t read:
— TMS Ruge (@tmsruge) April 13, 2019
Reaction needs an action… boycott their platform or products unless they have 60 % of employees in Africa.
— Jean Njoroge PhD (@shirojean) April 15, 2019
Best revenge is an African owned competitor.
— IreneNM #TuJadili (@TuJadili) April 15, 2019
Boycotting is not an option. But majority of their staff should be African.
— Knowledge-Afriq (@knowledge_afriq) April 15, 2019
Quite a detailed assessment of the so called “African Startup”. It’s a collective Misrepresentation of the financial handicaps of the real local Africa startup who is limited in accessing help to grow.
Jumia is a camouflage EU e-commerce company and a lot has been proven here.
— Kwaku Dompreh (@KKDompreh) April 13, 2019
@Jumia_Group stop calling yourself Africa start, you are not found by Africans, stop using indirect style to recolonize us, same thing goes with jiji and Legit these coys are founded by Russians
— Olaide Sanusi (@OlaideSanusiB) April 13, 2019
I use Jumia because it delivers my orders as specified and I get great discounts. What matters to me is trust, effeciency and value for customers. African startups must achieve this to thrive.
— Joshua Mabonga (@jjmabonga) April 14, 2019
The same modus operandi where they give Africa the goat hairs while they take the meat. Sadly African leaders have beggars mentality. Instead of articulating their resources with value added, they export it raw and import the finish product. Yet they go cap in hand begging
— Alpha (@barralpha1) April 13, 2019
This news has broken my heart to pieces. All this while i had thought Jumia was African, based from Nigeria. Seeing how i encourage many to use their services, while we have same startups services in Cameroon.
— Ntamark Eunice (@NtamarkEunice) April 15, 2019
These are the conversations that we need to have to bring awareness to the issues and then bring change. Let’s ask ourselves, how many African companies can go to Europe and do what these foreign companies do in our own countries? Why do we then allow it?
— Ehime (@thesweetestkiwi) April 14, 2019
I agree the African business environment is not very friendly however, our lukewarm attitude to service delivery is worrisome. Most foreign operators give their best service and it earns them trust
— #JosephineWashima (@SuccessTools2) April 15, 2019
So Jumia scammed our minds to believe that it was ours, which was the only reason why we trusted them enough to support them. Sad
— G (@geesus_x) April 14, 2019
Meaning – a lot of retail US investors sense massive potential in Africa but do not have ability to easily invest. Jumio success, calling themselves an African startup, demonstrates the markets’ desire to invest in Africa
— Hunter St. James, IV (@HunterStJamesIV) April 13, 2019
What needs to be done for Afrika needs to be done by afrikaans. Jumia is like the white colonial settlers who while partitioning afrika amongst themselves during dinner parties understood its potential, but unwilling to give its people any legitimate share of their(our*) profit.
— Najma_ (@najmagulled) April 15, 2019