Tech & Innovation April 13, 2022 at 02:00 pm

Fatoumata Ba: This Senegalese woman founded Africa’s first unicorn, Jumia

Abu Mubarik April 13, 2022 at 02:00 pm

April 13, 2022 at 02:00 pm | Tech & Innovation

Fatoumata Ba during an interview (Photo Credit: jeuneafrique.com)

Fatoumata Ba is a tech entrepreneur from Dakar, Senegal. She is credited with leading the expansion of Africa’s largest e-commerce platform, Jumia, which works much like Amazon. Jumia has also been described as Africa’s first unicorn — a tech startup that reaches a $1 billion dollar market value.

Fatoumata began her career as an Accounts Manager and Business Developer for Index Multimedia in 2007 while studying abroad. In 2008, she was made Sales Advisor and later a Business Analyst at France Telecom. She also worked for Atos Consulting as a Senior Consultant of Strategy and Innovation for three years before returning to Africa.

Upon her return to Africa, she founded Jumia Côte d’Ivoire and served as its CEO from 2013 to 2015. She moved on to become Jumia Nigeria’s Managing Director until 2016 when she became a member of the Jumia Group Executive Committee Spanning across Africa, Paris, and Dubai, according to African Vibes.

Fatoumata left Jumia after overseeing the company’s expansion across Africa to launch her own firm. She founded and now leads Janngo. Janngo is a social incubator that invests in and supports African startups.

Africa has plenty of startup hubs but not enough jobs. It is estimated that 20 million tech jobs will be needed by 2050 for men and women. Many young entrepreneurs in Africa lack seed capital to start their own businesses. And that is where Janngo comes in. The firm focuses on investing in women’s businesses in a bid to help create successful women’s business leaders.

“It is not a matter of actually making it only a gender case. Of course, it is a good reason enough to be fair and balanced. But I actually want to make it a business case because we are actually missing probably hundreds of billions of dollars of GDP because we are lacking in female business funding,” Fatoumata told DW.

According to her, Africa suffers from a strong funding gap compared to other geographies. “You have so many private equity guys. So many institutions and pension funds but they do not have enough venture capital so I am looking at direct capital and being an accelerator or an incubator is critical,” she said.

Fatoumata was born in a Senegalese middle-class family in 1986. She reportedly hacked her father’s computer when she was only nine years old. This episode stirred her interest in technology. She created her first email address when she was 11 and her first website at 16 years old, according to African Vibes.

She had her bachelor’s degree in Togo and went to TBS Education – ESC Toulouse, France to obtain her master’s in Management, Strategy, Marketing and Finance. She subsequently went to Harvard Kennedy School, United States for a degree in Executive Education, Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century in 2019.

The tech entrepreneur is a recipient of several awards and honors, including Forbes Africa 30 under 30; Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum; Choiseul 100 Africa Economic Leaders of Tomorrow; and Aenne Burda Award for visionary leadership, optimism and courage.

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