By Spencer Feingold
The largest e-commerce company in Africa began trading on the New York Stock Exchange Friday, becoming the continent's first tech start-up to be listed on a major global exchange.
Jumia Technologies went public under the ticker JMIA and priced its IPO at $14.50 per share.
“In a continent like Africa, where you don’t have so many options of offline shopping and brick and mortar, the share of ecommerce will naturally be much stronger,” Jeremy Hodara, the company’s co-founder and CEO, told Cheddar in an interview Friday.
Founded in 2012, Jumia currently operates in 14 African countries and has over 81,000 active sellers on its platform. The company employs more than 5,000 people and handled over 13 million packages in 2018.
Hodara said that his company — often referred to as the "Amazon of Africa" — will use the public funding to expand the business and increase its footprint in local markets.
“There are 1.2 billion people in Africa and half of them are on the internet,” Hodara said. “Which means concretely that the internet population in Africa is larger than the whole U.S. population.”
Since its launch, Jumia has excited investors who hope to get into a nascent market — less than one percent of total retail in Africa is done online, according to the company.
In 2016, Jumia's parent company Africa Internet Group became the first African startup unicorn when it hit a $1 billion valuation with funding from Goldman Sachs, AXA Insurance, and other investors.
In March, Mastercard ($MA) increased its investments in the company and signed a strategic partnership to further develop Jumia’s e-commerce operations.
“We are entirely focused on Africa,” Hodara said. “We very strongly believe that this internet population of 450 million is a huge opportunity. We have a lot to do to serve them.”