I sent this note to a Fund we work with; expanded for clarity here.
Visit this link on the career page of Rocket Internet, the parent of Jumia. The company is looking for “Co-Founders” to hire for its digital businesses. I have classified most of these co-founders as “Co-Founders as a Service” (CFaaS).
Hiring these co-founders is a pioneering business system popularized by the two brothers in charge of Rocket Internet. What they do is evident – advertise for the posts of Co-Founders, people apply for jobs, hire them as employees and give them roles. Most times, the roles are to return to their native countries or regions to start a business which will be funded by Rocket Internet.
With the title co-founders, the indigenes of that country may be confused that the people they see are “owners”, making market entry and penetration easier. Even politicians may also think they are helping something that belongs to their fellow citizens. Fascinatingly, those co-founders may own no equities – just employees who hold the titles of “co-founders”. Or in some cases, they can be awarded a unit of stock where 10 million units are available. By giving them that one unit, the title of co-founder becomes legally defensible.
The CFaaS strategy is effective: I encourage you to explore where necessary. It is a modern business tool to enter into new markets and get acceptability by locals in some sectors. (There could be feeling of “deception” when the locals realize that the alleged “owners” own nothing in the company after the goodwill has been extended to them.)
You may consider CFaaS in [withheld] to scale this mission. That is what we think may help because of the sector and the turbulence you have encountered going directly with the Fund typical strategy. Yet the CFaaS must still be good operators and executors.
NB: Things happen in markets because in some jurisdiction, regulations are weak. Do not just blame companies operating based on current rules book. If you have problems with the rules, write your legislators to change them.