By Prince Osuagwu
Chinonso Dickson Ole- jeme is an economics graduate from University of Lagos. However, he had to veer into trading in house hold electronics, which is a family line of business.
The problem for him was not the sneer from his peers who would feel he was wasting talent as an economist by going into brick and morter trading. He was mainly concerned about creating a business concept that would transform his family business into a modern day business empire to befit the experience he garnered in four years university training as an economist.
His first shot at the new dream was to host an online trading platform www.zit.ng, reflecting his business name, Zitmall. The online platform did not provide the Eldorado Olejeme was expecting, but at least, it provided a means to an end.
The experience, the new thinking and the different perspective the online platform brought into the business, gave him hope that the online route may be the right one, after all. So he began to search for a higher platform that can leverage his business better. The search brought him to one of Nigeria’s biggest online malls, Jumia in 2015. Three years on, Olejeme as a Jumia vendor, is telling a success story.
Incidentally his story is coming now when Jumia is also celebrating six years of doing business in Nigeria. Read about his experience in this interview. Excerpts:
I was wondering what it means being a Jumia vendor, considering how ecstatic you appear to be introducing yourself as one?
You are correct about my feelings. I am happy being a Jumia vendor and I can tell you, it’s a very interesting experience. It has to be so because whatever gives my business a boost has added to my life and I should be happy with that.
When did you join Jumia and how has being a vendor affected your business?
I joined Jumia three years ago and the impact in my business has been tremendous. I was doing well beforehaving this partnership with Jumia, but today I am doing great. The business has grown beyond my imagination within such a short time. In fact it is like this online platform is performing miracle on people’s businesses
When you say miracle, can we have an idea of the magnitude Jumia has lifted your business?
Like I said, it was not as if we were not doing good business in both our online and offline shops before joining Jumia but now the volume of our sales have gone up 300 to 500 percent and the tendency that it will go much more higher, is there because demand is increasing by the day. As it stands today, our problem is not demand but how to meet up with the demand. That is why I said the experience is indescribable.
At first, were you not sceptical that Jumia may take over your business and leave you just in the background?
Honestly, I felt so. But that was part of the uncertainties about the power of e-commerce in the business sector. But today, I know better and have introduced many people, including my siblings to join Jumia. I am also happy that Jumia has not failed any of those I introduced into the business.
If demand is as huge as you have explained, meeting it would require huge funds?
Yes. But fortunately, Jumia arranges soft loans for us to support what we have and that has helped a lot. That is why I advocate government presence in e-commerce. The sector may have not exploded, but it will, surely. So government should come in either in terms of providing reasonable loans to operators or partnering with organisations like Jumia so that they can increase their stakes, engage more entrepreneurs and impact even more meaningfully the businesses on their stable.