“African Amazon” Debuts

African startup makes history as the first IPO on a major stock exchange.

Jumia, a Nigerian e-commerce platform often compared to Amazon, listed on the New York Stock Exchange in April, making it the first African tech start-up to have an IPO on a major stock exchange. Some see it as a significant turning point that could inspire more African start-ups to go public.

Jumia priced 17.6% of its shares at $14.50 apiece, valuing the business at $1.1 billion and raising around $200 million for the venture. The shares opened at $18.95, a 31.7% premium on the IPO price. The stock has since soared past $40, pushing the start-up’s valuation past $3 billion.

The proceeds will be used to pay shareholders and fund growth. Its largest shareholder is African telecoms giant MTN. Other early backers include Mastercard, Goldman Sachs, Rocket Internet, AXA Group and CDC Group.

Jumia saw its revenue jump by 40% to $147.3 million in 2018. Like Amazon in its early days, Jumia is still far from profitable, racking up losses of nearly $1 billion since it was founded by two French entrepreneurs in 2013. Jumia operates in 14 countries across the African continent, yet there is some controversy over its African credentials: The firm is incorporated in Germany and has its core tech team in Portugal.