More women are climbing the leadership ladder in the public and private sectors. According to Catalyst.org, the number of women in senior management positions globally grew by 29% both in 2019 and 2020. Recently, female roles have been acknowledged, with more women joining the C-Suite and becoming innovators.
E-commerce is one sphere where women play significant roles, especially in Africa. A report by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor revealed that Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world. As a veritable online marketplace, e-commerce holds a unique attraction for women because it enables them to sell to consumers in a male-dominated market without the fear of gender-related biases.
Women and e-commerce in Africa, a 2021 report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) done in partnership with Jumia, estimated that more than 51% of the sellers in Jumia Nigeria are women. E-commerce proudly boasts an array of successful women who have made significant marks as managers of e-commerce brands or leveraged e-commerce platforms to build their brands as entrepreneurs.
Fittingly, e-commerce platforms operating in Nigeria, notably Jumia, are proven veritable workplaces and online platforms that offer opportunities for women to make a significant impact in all spheres of life. Jumia, through several initiatives, career opportunities, partnerships, training and capacity building programmes, have been impacting women by providing them the platform to reach career goals and a wider market audience.
Jumia is renowned for promoting gender inclusion. The chairwoman of Jumia Nigeria is Juliet Anammah, who doubles as the Group Chief Sustainability Officer. She also sits on the strategic group within the influential Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) as chair of the e-Commerce Sectoral Group. She has occupied strategic and key roles that have impacted business growth and expansion.
“It is absolutely essential for women to be factored into the future of e-commerce. Africa is at the start of its e-commerce growth trajectory. Now is the time to ensure women entrepreneurs are at the forefront of Africa’s digital journey,” affirmed Anammah.
Women’s inclusion in the digital economic transformation of Africa has indeed become a subject of serious global advocacy. IFC’s Senior Vice President, Operations, Stephanie von Friedeburg, stated that bridging the gap between female and male vendors could add more value to African e-commerce.
‘‘One of its key ﬁndings is that, if the gap in sales between female and male vendors was closed, over US$14.5 billion could be added to the value of the African e-commerce market between 2025 and 2030, again that would continue to accumulate in future decades. In other words, for every year that gender gaps go unaddressed, just under US$3billion in market value is lost,’’ she said.
Adedoyin Adeigbe, a single mother of three university undergraduates, attests to how selling online on Jumia has boosted her business growth, supported her family and even allowed her to mentor other women.
‘‘I started selling on Jumia in 2015 for two reasons: to reach more customers outside of my physical shop and increase my revenue. I have three children in the university and there’s a lot of pressure to deal with as a single mum, especially catering for the family. My friend encouraged me to fend off this pressure by selling my goods online on Jumia. My three children also sell on Jumia, which has helped take a lot of pressure off me. In my physical shop, I have to employ more staff who are also helping me fulfil my orders. I am also currently mentoring many young women, who have started selling their goods on Jumia,’’ she said.
Jumia aims to further penetrate women-owned businesses and deepen e-commerce adoption, given the compelling new realities occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘‘The COVID-19 crisis made it clear that e-commerce is not just a convenience, but an essential utility for the new world in which we now live, where health and safety underpin everyday life decisions, including how we acquire goods. In this new reality, there is a pressing need to ensure that women are not left behind and have the resources, access, and tools they need to thrive. This is not only an economic imperative for women but also one that is necessary to ensure a stable and sustainable future for 1.3 billion Africans,’’ Anammah noted.