Meet The Nigerian Woman Who Rang Jumia’s IPO Bell

By  |  May 30, 2019

Juliet Anammah is the CEO of Jumia Nigeria and one of the champions of e-commerce in Africa but here’s something else you should know about the woman who rang the bell on the NYSE on Jumia’s IPO day.

It may seem like there’s finally some peace and quiet at the moment but the dust is nowhere near settled. It would be too presumptuous and somewhat naive to take the silence that has befallen the “Jumia fraud saga” as evidence that all the problems threatening to pull the e-commerce company under are somehow going away.

For all we know, Jumia has been rudely awakened from what was supposed to be a symbolic IPO listing and had the looks of it for the most parts, and it might be a while before we get to know if there was, indeed, foul play on their part, or if the fingers pointing to “smoking guns” are actually just another case of “the boy who cried wolf.”

Whatever be the case, one thing will remain constant; Jumia did list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) – supposedly making history in the process by becoming the first “African” tech company to achieve that feat (there are many who would have my head for that word in quotes but maybe we can reach a compromise). And the company had its stocks soaring in the days that trailed that ceremonial bell-ringing, up until a missile-like document released by Citron Research fired it right back to earth.

But perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to shut ourselves out to all the post-IPO noise for once and give some attention to something that hasn’t been restated to the point of banality and plain-old boredom — something like who’s that lady who rang the ceremonial bell on the floor of the NYSE on the day Jumia’s stock began trading? Really, who is she?

Juliet Anammah
CEO Jumia Nigeria

Actually, most people who care about the African e-commerce space (myself included) know her as Juliet Anammah; the current CEO of Jumia Nigeria. And maybe there are those who would throw in the fact that before Jumia, she was a top executive at Accenture, Nigeria, but usually, that’s about it.

So, “who” is Juliet Anammah? Who is this woman who was handpicked for the job of taking e-commerce in Jumia’s biggest market; Nigeria, to the next level? Who is she who can be considered the de-facto face of Jumia in Africa? Who is she who is often flanked by Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec (Jumia’s co-founders and co-CEOs) in photos? Who is she who can be quoted as having recently suggested that Africa lacks the calibre of investors the company needs at this point hence the listing on the NYSE?

Well, for starters, not much is known about her – at least, not on the web. But we do know some things. To begin with, she’s been featured in several exclusive interviews, not much is known of her personal life, and outside the world of business and e-commerce, Juliet Anammah hasn’t left that much of a trail to follow.

But she does score points for having made a mark in territories that seem to have become her turf. Juliet Anammah has held down the fort at Jumia Nigeria since December 2015 and before that, she was an accomplished business consultant with many years spent in management consulting at Accenture, Nigeria.

Her academic background can be traced back to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where she bagged a bachelors degree in Pharmacy. That was followed up with an MBA in Finance from ESUT Business School, Lagos. She can also be linked to The Wharton School, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and a lot of volunteer work too.

Before joining Accenture, she had ties to French pharmaceutical firm, Aventis, and once she joined the Nigerian offices of the Chicago-headquartered global technology consulting firm, it seems she only got better, rapidly rising through the ranks as she became Director and then Managing Director of Accenture’s Consumer Goods Practice in Nigeria — a role that saw her manage Accenture’s Products-Operating Group covering Nigeria and West Africa. Products-Operating Group comprises consumer goods, retail and infrastructure, and transportation.

During her later years at Accenture, she served as a Partner and her focus tilted to the digital consumer and routes to the market for consumer goods companies. That’s probably how she learned the ropes and honed skills that must have made the decision to hand the job of running Jumia Nigeria a no-brainer.

By the time she left Accenture for Jumia, she had amassed over 24 years of professional experience with six years at Senior Executive level. As Bloomberg puts it, she possesses “strong leadership capacity and a consumer-driven mindset honed from her experience in consumer goods and services.”

Juliet Anammah serves on the board of many non-profit organizations involved in women development and trade expansion. She served as Non-Executive Director at Diamond Bank Plc between July 24, 2017, and October 24, 2018.

Over the years, she’s put in some work as a volunteer. The volunteer efforts have seen her put in work and perhaps still has her doing her bit in a number of institutions including The Corona Schools Trust Council Governing Board, The American Business Council, Idea Incubator, The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), and WEConnect International (Nigeria Chapter).

Juliet Anammah was named the new CEO for Jumia Nigeria in 2015, taking the reins from former Co-CEOs Jeremy Doutte and Nicolas Martin, who had been assigned a new responsibility in the form of taking over Jumia Global and growing it across the 11 African countries in which the group operated at the time — a figure that has since grown to 14.

“My objective is to relentlessly focus on building the Jumia brand, making it the one-stop shopping destination in Nigeria by offering convenience and the widest assortment of quality products at affordable prices,” said Juliet Anammah while accepting the appointment and expressing her commitment to delivering the company’s vision.

“We are building a platform for local and global brands to enter the market at the speed of light by going directly from the factory to the consumers. This is a game changer for Nigeria and a major shift in the way companies look at their market entry strategy.”

The past four years of her reign at the helm of affairs haven’t exactly been a smooth ride but she does deserve some credit for the growth the company has recorded during that time.

While the e-commerce company is yet to turn in a profit and its losses continue to mount, the company’s reported revenues and the value of its merchandise have grown several-fold. And there have been entries into three other African markets during that time. Surely, the Jumia Nigeria boss is getting something right.

But there’s plenty that may have gone wrong, especially in light of the recent scandalous revelations of the company allegedly withholding vital information from prospective shareholders ahead of going public.

Even if the claims are true and the company does get found wanting, there’s really no way of telling for certain if she was actively involved in whatever underhanded dealing is found to have gone down, or if she was just an unfortunate casualty who happened to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Whatever be the case, now you know a little more about the dame other than the fact that she heads Jumia Nigeria and rang the ceremonial bell on April 12 when the company kicked off trading on the NYSE. And my money’s on there’s a lot more to learn.

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