E-commerce continues to thrive in Africa and in recent times, the conversation has shifted from whether it can work to how the work done can be sustained. While the market is still far from what is obtainable in the developed world, online marketplaces have contributed to the continent’s economic growth over the last decade.
One of the major benefits of internet commerce is that it is helping to close the gender gap in Africa, among other things. According to a report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in partnership with Africa’s leading e-commerce firm Jumia, women account for half of all active e-commerce sellers in Africa. In Nigeria and Kenya which are key markets for Jumia, 51% of sellers on the platform are women.
E-commerce marketplace platforms are well-positioned to provide training to women-owned businesses and encourage women to participate in higher-value segments like electronics. “We had a recent survey, and what I found really interesting is that women said they find e-commerce attractive because it’s a gender agnostic environment. In a physical market, someone can make a gender-related decision of maybe not buying an electronic product from a woman,” said Juliet Anammah, Chairwoman Jumia Nigeria and Chief Sustainability Officer of Jumia Group.
E-commerce encourages African women to be more entrepreneurial, allowing them to focus in other areas of interest whilst also owning and managing their own businesses. The access by women to much needed financial opportunities is also noteworthy as they can now enhance their businesses through several financing offerings like in-platform loans, at lower rates.
Anammah explained further: “It is also giving women the flexibility to manage their homes while still running their own businesses. Furthermore, women said they appreciate selling on Jumia because of the training which includes digital marketing, online selling, and account statement reading. The importance of this basic training to SMEs cannot be overemphasized.
“Access to capital is also available through Jumia lending, a platform-administered lending initiative that provides sellers with short-term working capital. We connect sellers on our platform, leveraging their transaction history to finance providers who are Jumia partners.”
E-commerce has also contributed to the career growth of several African women, with many others going on to establish reputable names and brands in the online space.
As the world shines a spotlight on women’s equality in honor of International Women’s Day in 2022, it’s safe to say that e-commerce has been a driver of economic growth, employment, and empowerment for women. Africa is only at the beginning of its e-commerce growth journey and with e-commerce at the heart of the digital economy, women entrepreneurs have a significant opportunity to contribute to and lead Africa’s digital transformation.