KAMPALA – Uganda’s leading e-commerce platform, Jumia, has on Wednesday officially launched its 10th Anniversary celebrations campaign dubbed “10 years with you”, to commemorate a decade of e-commerce in the country. The online platform launched in Uganda in 2012 when e-commerce in the country was virgin and today sells about six million products and delivers to every district in Uganda.
Speaking at a partners and vendors appreciation event held at its new head office at Union House, Bugolobi, Mr. Ron Kawamara, Jumia CEO said that when they opened in Uganda, buying or selling online was not something that many people had tried before.
“We had to educate both the customer and the vendor that you buy online and get the protection, warrant, refunds, returns, so we did quite a bit to educate the market.”
He attributed the company’s continued growth and existence to consumer trust, partnerships, continuous innovation and research.
“Business sustainability is a challenge especially in the highly competitive environment in Uganda. Our success story is thanks to the continued trust that our consumers have in our brand, strong partnerships that we have established with both local and international companies; sellers, logistics partners, investment partners and others. Innovation is necessary for Jumia and we continuously innovate to provide solutions that meet our consumer needs based on feedback and trends.”
Kawamara commended Ugandans, saying that they are the most tech survey citizens in East Africa.
He also applauded Ugandans who managed to participate in this ecosystem of technology, revealing that for the thousands of people who sell on Jumia, 60% of them are women and 95% of them are small and medium enterprises.
Kawamara says that today, for any country to grow and achieve her goals, technology MUST not be an option.
“During Covid-19, we saw that technology was not just convenient but was quite necessary for people to stay safe. Our business was not just convenient but vital to people staying home and staying safe and we have seen incredible impact on the lives of our customers and venders.”
In the period of ten years, Kawamara says they have not only served Ugandans with items but also mentored them.
“Today if you go to Glovo, Safe Boda, Uber, we are proud that leaders there came through Jumia ecosystem,” he revealed.
He said that through partnerships like United Nations Development Programme – UNDP, they have been able to reach more people typically private companies don’t reach.
“We partnered with the UNDP to reach market vendors, people who sell fresh produce in the market to connect them to online so they can reach more people because at some point, technology and e-commerce were dominated by big sellers but through this partnership we managed to reach to thousands of small scale sellers who were devastated by Covid-19.”
He said that through this partnership, they managed to bring all the markets in Kampala live online by creating specialized platforms for market vendors.
“As of today, the KCCA markets, Entebbe markets are available online for delivery, he said, adding that, “that creates livelihood to Ugandans who otherwise would not been able to sell and trade online.”
Kawamara, however, decried expensive internet in Uganda and closure of some social media platforms like Facebook where they would meet a good number of their clients.
“The growth of internet has accelerated the growth of e-commerce which means the reverse is also true. Anytime there are barriers, whether it’s taxes, cost of internet, that makes it more challenging for both the vendor and the buyer.”
“Even when we say that we are happy we have managed to reach to ten-year anniversary, this success has been in spite of government intervention. This has been purely private sector-led. We’ve not been big beneficiaries; we’ve not received any tax holiday. In that circumstance, we typically say if the government is not coming out and make the internet cheaper, it should not do any harm,” he asked.
Kawamara added, “We have seen OTT, internet tax at the time when most people relied online and absolutely it has an impact on our business.”
Today, Mr. CEO says Jumia is one of the biggest employers in Uganda, directly employing hundreds and indirectly thousands across the country and are also high tax category.
Mr. Innocent Fred Ejolu, UNDP Partnership and Innovation Lead congratulated Jumia for the remarkable milestone, revealing that their partnership came due to Covid-19.
“When the lockdown kicked in, our SMEs could not reach the consumers and this was mostly in the wet markets. So, we quickly engaged Jumia to leverage their brand to connect the informal market vendors in Kampala markets with consumers.”
“The imperative was looking at how we can help these small businesses where we have especially the youth and women who most of them are vulnerable to actually stay afloat because up 60% of small businesses were at risk of closure,” he added.
Ejolu says the partnership has seen them connect seven markets in Kampala.
Amos Masaba Wekesa, managing director of Great Lakes Safaris Limited also commended Wamala and his team for this milestone, urging Ugandans to copy from him to transform their country.
“Uganda needs people like him who do stuff, not just talking about stuff. It’s also important for us Ugandans to take advantage of this organization to learn how technology can be leveraged for growth.”