I write about business, entrepreneurship, innovation, wealth and culture with a focus on global impact. Innovative, groundbreaking ideas and the structures that drive them over time, inform my subject choices. I cover industries that span manufacturing, service, technology, entertainment, healthcare and aviation among others, across Africa for Forbes Middle East. I have previously worked as Forbes Africa’s West Africa Correspondent, a wealth contributor on the annual Forbes rich list and as a CNBC Africa business contributor.
Image source: Jumia
Pan-African e-commerce conglomerate, Jumia, has confirmed that it is filing reports for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange—a milestone that will make it the first African tech start-up to list on a global exchange.
While information on share price, valuation and timeline is to be determined in the coming weeks, the listing could signal a likely exit by Rocket Internet, Jumia’s German parent company, divesting its remaining 28% stake in the company.
The company’s decision to go public comes on the heels of perilous times for B2C digital commerce in Nigeria. In 2018, Konga.com, an early competitor, was sold in a distressed acquisition, creating losses for investors such as South Africa media, internet and investment company, Naspers.
In the same year, Nigerian online sales platform, DealDey, shut down.
The pending IPO creates a new milestone for Jumia. The company became Africa’s first startup unicorn in 2016, achieving a $1 billion valuation following a $326 funding round that included Goldman Sachs, AXA and MTN.
With the imminent IPO capital, Jumia will double down on its strategy and regional focus and will trade as JMIA on the NYSE.
In a statement to shareholders, Jumia lays claims to being “the only e-commerce business successfully operating across multiple regions in Africa” with over four million active customers as at December 2018.
A reshuffling of several of Rocket Internet’s online businesses across food delivery, real estate, hotel and flight bookings under the Jumia brand in 2016 contributed to this status, alongside add-on services including Jumia Logistics, its product delivery arm and Jumia Pay, its payments solution.
In spite of its repurposed structure, the company’s model has also seen hundreds of millions of dollars in losses exceeding generated revenue, amounting to nearly $1 billion as at December 2018.
Operating in 14 African countries including Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Kenya, the venture also burns through cash with negative operating cash flows of $159.2 million.
Jumia’s IPO will be the latest of public listings by Rocket Internet-backed companies as food startup Hello Fresh and Delivery Hero as well as furniture retailer Home24 have been listed on the Franfurt Stock Exchange in the last two years.
Holding just over 2% of the company shares, Jumia was founded by French entrepreneurs Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara.