Jumia exits & Shoppi.ng acqui-hires: Major shakeups in Nigeria’s ecommerce scene

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2014 is shaping up to be quite the year for ecommerce in Nigeria. Unconfirmed reports have been floating around that Jumia co-founders, Tunde Kehinde and Raphael Afaedor, are leaving the company to pursue other ventures. It’s always suspicious when two company co-founders duck out before the venture has really grown up. Sure Rocket Internet, the company’s prefab manufacturer, has thrown a lot of money at it and grow its numbers but it’s still an ecommerce startup figuring out Nigeria.

“I wouldn’t say we are losing our founders exactly,” said a well-placed source inside Jumia. “More that they are moving on to start new ventures.” According to the source, the exit all played out at the top-levels of Africa Internet Holding, the Rocket Internet branch that handles all its African investments. The duo will make their official exit from the company in mid January, says the company insider.

The details of their exit are still quite sketchy, though reports claim that the duo have chosen to leave the company in pursuit of new ventures, there has been no mention of what happens to their shares of the company. Will they retain some role as members of the board or will all ties with Jumia be severed? Is there a buyout in the mix? A clean exit could support theories that the duo didn’t actually found the company in the technical term but were hired by Rocket to run one of its many ecommerce plays in the emerging markets.

As Jumia’s house gets into the new with some uncertainty as to who will lead it, other ecommerce plays are banding together to compete in one of the country’s biggest spaces. According to a report by Techcabal, Shoppi.ng “the biggest e-commerce platform in Nigeria that you’ve never heard of” has made some interesting acquisitions going into 2014. The platform has acqui-hired two smaller online stores, Buynownow.com and 1500Naira.com in a cash and stock deal. This buyout meets merger gives Shoppi.ng the scale and users to take on the likes of Konga, which just got a US$25-million cash injection, and the leaderless Jumia. Shoppi.ng is definitely a company to watch this year.

According to our Jumia source, there is a successor in mind who will be announced once the current heads leave. The way the wind is blowing right now, the source says, the new CEO will be from “within” the company. Whether that means Jumia or the Rocket family is unclear.

One thing is certain, things are about to get very interesting in ecommerce in Nigeria. We have reached out to both founders of Jumia but are yet to receive any response.



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