The “Amazon of Africa” is trying to enable third-party e-commerce rather than sell more stuff

Back in 2012 when it first launched, Jumia’s long-term goal was to become the leading e-commerce player on the continent.

It set about that objective like typical e-commerce platforms do: acquiring vast inventory, building warehouses, and aiming to drive online sales based on the promise of ease and convenience.

Indeed, one of the company’s first steps was to hire account managers in charge of growing its inventory base across a diverse range of categories, from mobile phones and electronics to fashion, beauty and childcare. If customers wanted to buy it, Jumia—often referred to as the Amazon of Africa—wanted to be able to sell it. It was similar to the way Amazon itself started first with books and CDs and then eventually an Amazon of nearly everything.

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