July 14, 2024

E-Commerce for All: Jumia’s Role in Bridging the Digital Divide

3 min read

E-commerce today has become as pervasive as universal languages and global trends. Yet, as far-reaching as this commercial phenomenon is, there remains a segment of society that has not experienced the thrill of shopping virtually and fast home delivery services. This segment is largely situated in rural communities, locations that are not yet immersed in the global digital economy. While inhabitants of these rural communities are still largely underserved when it comes to e-commerce, Jumia — Africa’s leading online marketplace — has been making inroads into these regions, taking e-commerce and its advantages to the doorsteps of people who were previously overlooked.

Localising E-commerce

The digital divide refers to the gap between those who have access to modern information and communication technologies, particularly the internet, and those who do not. It’s a divide that extends beyond mere connectivity; it encompasses disparities in digital literacy, access to devices, and opportunities for economic participation. While the world has witnessed exponential growth in internet penetration, vast segments of the population, particularly in emerging economies, remain excluded from the digital revolution. The digital economy offers a plethora of opportunities, from e-commerce to remote work, providing individuals with the means to participate in the global marketplace. By enabling access to digital platforms, economies can thrive, creating a more equitable distribution of wealth.

In 2o23, Jumia released its “E-commerce in Rural Areas” report — a document that details Jumia’s efforts in making e-commerce easily accessible to everyone, regardless of geographical location and purchasing power. According to this report, one tactic Jumia leverages so effectively is one most Nigerians have experienced at some point — grassroots activations or in Jumia terminologies, the JForce.

Launched in 2016, JForce is a network of over 40,000 independent sales consultants that help thousands of Nigerians in rural communities surmount the digital divide. Through the Force, Jumia leverages a communal, offline marketing approach that enables individuals without access to the internet to access Jumia’s sprawling catalogue of products.

Eliminating Logistic Barriers

Supplying the other half of the e-commerce equation, Jumia also established pick-up stations and forged partnerships to surmount logistic challenges to rural communities. More specifically, the online marketplace brand set up 250+ pick-up stations and established alliances with several third-party logistic partners to facilitate product delivery to secondary cities and rural areas.

The strategic placement of pick-up stations across various towns ensures that inhabitants of even the most remote corners of Nigeria are not relegated. This initiative has been a viable pathway to help rural communities overcome geographical limitations and tap into the global economy, effectively enriching these communities.

Investing in the Local Economy

Further underscoring Jumia’s drive for accessibility and inclusivity, Jumia has invested in training local entrepreneurs as agents to bolster their income through its commission structure. Through this tactic, the company has created many jobs and business opportunities for rural entrepreneurs, fostering economic growth within these communities. As a testament to the impact of this strategy, Jumia has thousands of individuals signed up as JForce agents in these regions that were once cut off from global commerce — bolstering both the economic powers of denizens and the targeted communities as a whole.

According to the “E-commerce in Rural Areas” report, Jumia’s efforts at bridging the existing digital divide have been felt not only by rural entrepreneurs but also by families. The report reveals that about half of orders made on the Jumia marketplace platform, and delivered through its impressive network of pick-up stations and logistic services, are bound for either rural areas or secondary cities (23% rural areas, 22% secondary cities in 2023). Families in these regions are taking advantage of Jumia’s extensive catalogue of over 50 million products and on-ground agents, saving themselves time and money while ordering essential items either directly to their doorsteps or nearby pick-up stations.

Jumia’s strategies have undoubtedly had a far-reaching impact. Since launching its aggressive crusade to take e-commerce to underserved communities, people who had limited to no digital literacy have had opportunities to participate in the global digital ecosystem. Now, more individuals can learn and harness skills such as online shopping, online payments, and navigating e-commerce platforms that have proven not only useful for personal interests but also for increasing their incomes and purchasing power. By promoting digital inclusion and literacy, Jumia helps bridge the digital divide and enables communities to fully participate in the benefits of the digital age.















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