By Demilade Osoteku
When JUMIA was just 5 months old, I saw an article on Ventures Africa detailing the success recorded by the company within the short period of existence of the start-up. It had a very impressive profile with the façade that it was started and seemingly owned by the duo, Tunde Kehinde and Raphael Afaedor.
I had passionately blogged and served as an unpaid marketer for their brand, driven by the belief that I was supporting an indigenous startup with innovative Africans who are solving Africa’s problems. My dismay came after reading various articles about the resignation of Tunde and Rafael. In my personal opinion, they didn’t willingly resign, they were ousted out of their company.
Let’s imagine a company that is barely one and half years old, a dream that the founders according to Rafael in this article said “We had to quit our jobs and put all our effort in what we believed. Often, working 16 hours a day, sometimes more.” The company started as Kasuwa in 2012 and moved on to JUMIA months later. Tunde had been “very confident about growing the business to a really really large scalable platform for a long time,” until the January surprise came.
Visible presence on 6 African countries is not an easy feat from both management and financing, the only challenge is that in my opinion, the founders have not been made to eat the fruit of their labour. They may have been compensated in monetary terms, equity or other means but that is not commensurate to the dispossession of a dream. They left their dream company to “start their own businesses.”
Tunde emphatically said “We don’t want to just make profit. We don’t want to be here just a few years. We want to establish something enduring, help develop e-commerce in Nigeria and provide that talented fashion designer with no shop, a platform to sell across Nigeria.” how come they are leaving in just 18 months.
Rocket Internet being a German venture capitalist has been quite unfair (my opinion still). I remember the story of Taxipark, Nigeria’s first online taxi booking service. Rodeny Jackson Cole, the founder revealed that they pitched to Rocket Internet 7 months earlier than the time the Venture Capitalist’s launch of a rival company EasyTaxi with $10 million in investment. In his interview with cp-africa he admitted “We however made some silly mistakes when it came to the legal side of things, we ignored non-disclosure agreements and shared a lot of information with our would be competitors who at the time posed as investors,” Taxipark moved to Tranzit few months after start-up, maybe in response to the competition.
This scenario is similar to the sack of Steve Jobs from Apple early in the company’s career. He however went ahead to build Pixer into a global animation company. I wish the Jumia co-founders same.
According to Jim Collins and Jerry Poras in their classical book, Built to Last. A company should be built on core ideologies and not on abrupt changing of Chief Executives. This is the kind of sustainable start-up fundamentals that African companies need.
Tunde and Raphael will be replaced by Nicolas Martin and Jérémy Doutté. Although they are both not Nigerians, I am also happy about the fact that they both are young people just 30.
Would really love to hear from readers, kindly drop your comments below.