How To Grow Business In A Tough Environment – Afaedor | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How To Grow Business In A Tough Environment – Afaedor

Posted: Jun 21, 2016 at 9:40 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Raphael Afaedor is founder and chief executive officer of, one of Nigeria’s online grocery delivery stores. He is also the co-founder of Jumia, one of Nigeria’s largest online stores. He tells Ikechi Nzeako in this in this interview why he left a Jumia to establish another online mall that is also expanding in leaps and bounds. Excerpts:

What did you have in mind when you founded Jumia, one of Nigeria’s largest online malls?
We founded Jumia because we wanted to provide people with a platform to buy the products that they need without leaving the comfort of their homes. We saw that there was a gap that needed to be filled and we filled that gap. No one store had everything and there were many stores in the city of Lagos and we thought we could make it easier for people to buy the products they need without leaving the comfort of their homes and they do not have to deal with chaotic traffic in the city. They did not have to go to the supermarket or the market to buy the items that they need. That was what we did.
Were you able to fulfil the vision the company was set up for?
Absolutely yes; I think the company is do very well in the market and everybody knows now about Jumia. The business is growing very rapidly and I think that has fulfilled the vision we set out to achieve at the time we founded Jumia. We were so confident that it was a success and that it could be taken over and run by other people that we left the company to start, which is the largest online grocery store in the country.
What was the motivation to setting up of
At the end of the day, people spend a lot of time to get their groceries and other essentials because of the traffic situation in the city. The motivation was to make it easier for people to get their groceries and other essentials without stress. We are not selling anything people do not normally get. However, what we are saying is that it should not be difficult to buy groceries and other essentials; that is what we are saying. We want to make it easy for people to go online and buy these things and it will be delivered to them at their homes. They do not need to spend three to six hours in the traffic in the bid to shop for groceries and other items. They can use the time to hangout with their spouses or do any other thing; they can lie down and sleep or read a book or do any other thing and should not be stuck in traffic because they want to buy grocery and other essentials.
How do you overcome the logistics of getting to people’s homes given the traffic situation in Lagos?
That is the challenge for our company to overcome; it is our job to be able to manage through the logistics; to be able to get information about what the traffic situation is a particular area of the city and be able to by-pass it. It is not the customers’ business to worry about the logistics; it is the customers’ job to do other things he or she chooses to do. My job is to deal with the logistics of the delivery.
And how has the business fared?
The business is moving and rapidly expanding and we see a 25 per cent growth in the business month-on-month even in spite of the economic downturn. We are growing rapidly because we solving a real problem that people have.
The Internet penetration in the country is low; how is your online business overcoming this challenge?
The Internet penetration in the country is not as low at it seems; people have Internet on the go and the prices of devices are going lower and lower and within the demographic profile that buy our products, Internet penetration is very high. Now practically everybody has Internet on the go; most of the people have access to the Internet.
How do you assure customers the quality of the products you are giving them?
In my business, you are as good as your last delivery; if I mess up today, I may not be able to get customers tomorrow. So we are very conscious of that and we give our customers the opportunity to inspect everything that we supply to them. You order online; you select your delivery window; you do not have to be at home before or after; exactly what you ordered is what we will deliver. It is exactly when you want it that we will deliver it and you can inspect the products. If you do not like something, we take it back. If we deliver something and you later discover that you do not like it, which is extremely rare, like you open a crate of eggs and find that some have cracked or you do not like the quality of the eggs, we will still return new eggs to you. So that is how we win the customers’ trust. So the fact that we are growing at 25 per cent monthly is a testament that our customers are happy with our service delivery.
What is your assessment of the Nigerian business environment?
I think things are getting tougher; the macroeconomic environment is also getting tougher. But as I said before, our company is witnessing growth of about 20 to 25 per cent month to month in spite of the economic downturn in the country. We have to buy local and we have to sell local; if you find the right product, you will be able to see growth in your business because people must eat.
What do you say to potential entrepreneurs who have ideas but want have tons of money before they start?
You do not have to wait until you have millions before you start. Start small and grow the business; start, just do it.
What do you want government to do for entrepreneurs like you?
Government has enough on its hands and I will not say that government should do something for any particular group. However, if government creates an enabling environment, secure environment and a foreign exchange regime that encourages business, that is a good place to start. I do not need government to do anything for entrepreneurs only; it should act in the interest of the entire citizenry.