Jumia is suspending operations in Cameroon at a time when the world has its sights on Africa’s potential as an engine for growth. Far from signaling the demise of online trade, the eCommerce giant’s failures will open up opportunities that will benefit the whole ecosystem.
The most apparent benefit for local traders is the increase in their market share. Lean start-ups who’ve figured out distribution will reach more customers and increase profit. Most eTrade in Cameroon happens on Whatsapp, Instagram, and Facebook, places where branding and the social experience are vital. Customers can quickly pay through Mobile Money and chat with vendors. Thriving entrepreneurs on social media are proof that this way of doing business works, and might be the way forward for eCommerce in Cameroon.
Cameroonian businesses must see the need to build platforms that are aligned with their long-term goals, with proportionate investment in the talent that is essential to sustain these infrastructures. Jumia had developers outside of the continent, building solutions for people they had never met. It’s a golden opportunity for locals to code a giant platform that understands the way Cameroonians live and shop.
In an interview granted to CNBC Africa after Jumia suspended operations, Cameroonian tech guru Rebecca Enonchong pointed out what many people don’t know. Jumia’s founders are German, its developers are based in Portugal, and according to her, the business’ primary focus has been to attract investors.
“I think that this illusion that this is a giant African conglomerate is finally starting to show that it’s not,” Enonchong said.
The African eCommerce market is not just an opportunity investors can throw money at. They need to study the market, employ people who live in these markets and pay them fairly. If a large company not immersed in the culture has failed, there’s the chance for a truly African tech culture that understands its consumers to grow out of its ruins. For that to happen, they’ll need hard work, time, and smart money.
On the other hand, Export Portal, a global B2B trade marketplace, has everything a business needs to get started with international trade. While its offerings are comprehensive, the platform still has the mobility to pivot and support individual users in a way big conglomerates like Jumia might not be able to. Made for Cameroonian and international businesses, Export Portal makes it easy to expand globally. Register today!