Infrastructure and Finance for Africa — A Story of Entrepreneurship


The power of small businesses fascinates me. As the son of entrepreneurs, it always struck me was how difficult it is to run a business in Africa. Difficult to create awareness. Difficult to consistently access finance. Difficult to navigate the infrastructure, power and regulatory challenges and get your product in the hands of customers.

During college and business school in the US, I was inspired by how businesses (the local restaurant, laundromat, bank, etc.) positively impact their communities; creating jobs and growing local economies. World class infrastructure & logistics, eCommerce and access to finance unlocks and grows that impact.

This is why I am in Africa. Why I am passionate about Entrepreneurship. And why my journey as an entrepreneur has followed a particular theme.

Chapter 1: Building the Amazon of Africa

With Jumia, we built the amazon of Nigeria with wide selection, great pricing and more convenience to purchase merchandise and fashion for consumers and their families. However, the real benefit to the Country was offering businesses a platform where they could display their items and overnight go from selling only in their local communities through a physical outlet to selling nationwide and expanding their markets.

Jumia revealed the potential of eCommerce to leapfrog Brick & Mortar retail in Nigeria (below figures are for Jumia Africa but Nigeria represents large majority of performance).

From Zero to ~$300 Million in GMV in 4 years

While there will be (and should be) a lot commentary on the financial performance of Jumia, the topline shows what is possible in a very short time (4 years). The challenge for the business is to fix the rest of the P&L. What is clear is given an opportunity, formal retail can thrive in Africa powered by local suppliers.

Chapter 2: Building Infrastructure and a Clear Route to Market with ACE

With ACE, we are building the logistics infrastructure to offer anyone a reliable platform to deliver goods to customers, collect payments and track packages real-time from anywhere in the world. We are the enabler for trade for businesses in Africa that want to connect an item with a customer. The slide below is an old slide from a 2015 deck that gives a snapshot of what we have done and how we are easing access to trade.


ACE can get your customers a variety of items; food in 30 minutes or a fridge in 48 hours. We are releasing a merchant CRM that will give insights on your deliveries and using mobile technology to route our riders smarter and give real-time updates from the field. We want to make our logistics infrastructure a utility and allow the end customer to receive items that matter to their everyday lives (bank cards, healthcare products, insurance policies, food, fashion, etc.).

Chapter 3: Consistent Access to Finance

Jumia and Konga are solving the awareness and retail access challenges across Africa. With ACE, we offer warehousing, customer service, order processing, delivery and collection to get your goods to customers reliably and in a way that delights customers and merchants; with data, tracking and insights that help businesses improve and grow.

However, the reality is, without consistent access to finance and credit scoring that means something and unlocks rewards, better rates and higher loan amounts for good performance, small businesses will never reach their full potential despite all the innovation and progress in retail and logistics. The unfortunate reality is financial institutions on the continent don’t know how to assess risk for these consumers so they are locked out of finance.


This is why we are Championing Lidya. Utilizing the wide adoption of mobile and the internet to give real access to finance to those who need it. To start, the focus will be on small businesses, helping them access finance to buy inventory and handle working capital. We will partner with leading local and international financial institutions to accomplish this (more details soon). Selfishly, our belief is the more merchants we help access finance to grow, the more it will benefit ACE with more packages and deliveries. Our ability to physically reach the customer allows us to deliver financial products (bank cards, etc) and perform KYC in a quick and data-rich way that no other financial institution can do in Africa today. We will industrialize credit scoring and risk assessment which will create jobs and expand local communities which will help our economies grow.

Working together in Africa for the last 4 years, Ercin and I have developed a thesis on what we should do, what we should not do and importantly what parts of the value chain we should control to deliver a winning customer experience. Our approach is unconventional (to some) but I am convinced our path will help Africa achieve its potential and complete the transition from being the hopeless continent to the hopeful continent.

Let’s keep building.

Written and published on Medium by Tunde Kehinde, he is the CEO of ACE and Lidya, an online-only bank he will be floating in the next couple of months.

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