March 13, 2019

Africa’s first tech unicorn, Jumia, files to hit the global market

Africa’s first startup unicorn files for an IPO, and if all goes well, the company will also be the first African startup to hit the global market.

Pan-African e-commerce company, Jumia, filed for an IPO on the NYSE yesterday. The filing, according to SEC documents, is for $100m, but estimates from Renaissance Capital show it could seek to raise 5x that amount.

If all goes well, this could mark the first African tech company to go public on a global exchange.

The Amazon of Africa

Founded in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2012, Jumia now operates multiple online verticals — including a payment platform and a delivery service for trucks — in 14 African countries including Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Egypt.

In 2016, Jumia became the first African startup unicorn — and in 2018 it processed more than 13m packages and garnered over 81k active sellers on its platform.

While a report from Jumia investor Rocket Internet shows improving revenue — around $105m in 2017, up 11% from 2016 — Jumia is not yet profitable, reporting losses north of $135m in that same time frame.

But, B2C continues to struggle

McKinsey & Company projects consumer spending on the continent to reach $2.1T by 2025, which naturally serves as an industrial-grade magnet to VC investors interested in tapping budding markets.

But, even better for Jumia, its move to go public comes at a time when B2C businesses are falling in Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation, and largest economy — setting Jumia up to be the leading e-commerce company in Africa.

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