Accion partner Jumia is a Pan-African e-commerce giant with over 10,000 active vendors selling more than 6 million products to over 15 million monthly visitors. Jumia also offers complementary services to its vendors, including logistics support, business intelligence tools, and access to working capital for retail micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). However, the challenges of adapting to e-commerce can limit the success of MSMEs on Jumia’s platform, as well as Jumia’s ability to attract more MSME retailers. Micro and small retailers in particular typically have lower levels of operational maturity and less capability to use digital platforms.
Meanwhile, Accion partners Accion Microfinance Bank (AMfB) and UGAFODE, leading microfinance institutions based in Nigeria and Uganda, respectively, have in-depth knowledge of MSMEs and their capabilities. AMfB, UGAFODE, and other institutions that cater to this segment have strong relationships with MSMEs, understand their pain points, and leverage opportunities to serve them better. However, microfinance institutions tend to be slower to transform digitally and improve or offer digital products and services. This is mainly due to:
- Heavily manual operational and customer engagement processes
- Lack of fit-for-purpose operational systems and technology
- Lower data maturity, tools, and skillsets
Africa’s micro retailers were some of the hardest hit during the pandemic and ensuing economic disruptions. Digital platforms like Jumia’s can help these merchants expand their customer base and access tools to manage and grow their businesses. That’s why Accion initiated a series of pilots aimed at supporting micro retailers and connecting them to new business opportunities and digital services, to improve their resilience to economic shocks. Among these pilots, we facilitated a partnership between Jumia and AMfB in Nigeria and UGAFODE in Uganda, and supported the design of financial solutions, digital capability building tools, and operational integrations.
Key objectives for this initiative included piloting approaches to onboarding retail MSMEs on Jumia and providing working capital loans through the platform. We worked with our institutional partners to:
- Design and roll out a playbook for MSME e-commerce onboarding. The playbook outlines applicable considerations for offering an e-commerce service to less digitally savvy MSME customers, including the partnership structure, merchant selection and onboarding process, customer engagement tools for outreach and support, and key performance indicators. It complements Jumia’s existing merchant onboarding process and provides institutions additional guidance to support the onboarding of less digitally savvy MSMEs.
- Provide end-to-end support in leveraging e-commerce data to develop working capital loan products to offer through Jumia’s digital lending marketplace. This data can also be used to identify opportunities for new partnerships and product offerings for MSME retail customers.
- Build MSMEs’ digital capabilities by identifying their friction points, knowledge gaps, and the opportunities that would enable MSMEs’ long-term success on e-commerce platforms, and then refining and creating replicable collateral and tools to address them. These collateral and tools can be used to scale this initiative and others in different markets with similar types of partners.
The resources produced through this small pilot proved valuable in strengthening our institutional partners’ capacity to support their MSME customers venturing into e-commerce. This includes the more than 200 newly registered merchants who were onboarded on Jumia as part of the program and gained a new digital channel to help boost their sales. Jumia also benefited from an expanded lending offering and new vendors on the platform.
The pilots also served as the blueprint for similar work with other partners in Ethiopia and Uganda. We are continuing our efforts to work with financial service providers and digital platform partners to enable digital ecosystems and digitally transform micro and small businesses to help them thrive.
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