Online retail begins to click in Africa’s biggest market

The headquarters for this Internet startup is cheekily nicknamed “Graceland” and its co-heads are young Harvard graduates with grand plans who have rapidly expanded the business over the past year.
Silicon Valley? Not even close. This emerging world Internet company, called Jumia, is now located in Nigeria, and the founders of the business here say there is no better place to pursue their strategy.

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest market of 160 million people, has seen Internet access expand rapidly in recent years, opening opportunities for companies to exploit. While major obstacles remain here for any business, from deeply rooted corruption to a lack of electricity and widespread fraud, both online and elsewhere, the potential is enormous.

Online retailers like Jumia, which is present in a handful of other African countries, are seeking to unlock the possibilities, developing plans that cater specifically to the local market. “I doubt there are many markets in the world with 160 million people, a growing middle class and nothing in terms of organised retail,” said Tunde Kehinde, a 29-year-old Nigerian and Harvard graduate who co-founded what would become the Nigerian branch of Jumia. “And so for us, that’s the vision that Jumia has: to help build organised retail here in the largest country in Africa.” Adapted from


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