Nigeria is bigger than its problems – Kehinde

Nigeria is bigger than its problems – Kehinde

Tunde Kehinde, co-founder and former managing director of Jumia Nigeria. Photo by HumanIPO.

The size of the Nigerian market and its desire for solutions outweighs the many challenges of doing business in the country, according to Tunde Kehinde, former managing director (MD) of Jumia Nigeria.

Speaking at Africa’s Payments, Banking and Retail Show 2014 in Johannesburg today, Kehinde, who left his post as MD at Jumia in January this year, said there were numerous challenges to doing business in Nigeria but the size of the market made it worthwhile.

He said challenges include infrastructure, power, internet and a lack of talent.

“It is one thing to have an online presence, but it is a very physical business. Nigeria is a pretty big country,” he said.

“Talent was a very, very big issue for us because even though we have a very large population, we do not have what they have in the US or UK, who are training thousands of experts every year. Anywhere in the developed world you could find partners to take some of the stress, but at Jumia we built everything in-house.”

He said, however, regardless of the problems, the opportunities in Nigeria are such that overcoming them is worthwhile.

“At least Nigeria is bigger than the problems. People are starving for goods and services, and if you can overcome those challenges there is a chance to be a national brand,” he said.

“The idea was, Nigeria is a large market, but has only about five or six world class shopping malls. There was a big opportunity to create a national retailer that is beyond just online. The ambition was to build the Walmart and the Amazon of Africa.”

Building a successful team was crucial to that process, Kehinde said.

“You need a team that is built to win. We launched with five people but within two years we have grown to a team of 1,000. We invested a lot in building the best team possible,” he said.

“You’re going to have to build that team in-house, because most of our graduates are going into telecoms and oil and gas.”

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