I am thinking that Jumia and Konga, two Nigerian ecommerce pioneers, can fix a major problem in Nigeria: the Aba shoe and leather business problems. (Besides Aba, we have similar issues in Kano and Oshogbo in other sectors.) For all the promises in Aba, Nigerian entrepreneurs are yet to unlock the latent opportunities therein. We do know that Aba has brilliant designers who are limited by their business visions, just as our farmers who remain keepers of ancestral traditions, over becoming businesspeople.
Both Jumia and Konga have invested so much on branding, and they are known in Nigeria. Each can pioneer a solid private label. So, I am hoping we will have things like Jumia Shoes and Konga Collections. They will have these businesses with pure elements of exclusivity in their respective portals.
Now that we are transitioning our economy, through diversification out of minerals and hydrocarbon, to a knowledge-based one, these ecommerce companies can play a critical role through commerce. Drawing my previous writings, these are ways they can create Jumia exclusive shoes on Jumia and Konga exclusive collections on Konga, and fix Aba shoe industry paralysis, using a pure aggregation construct:
- Support some shoe designers and get them to produce under a unique label – Jumia Shoes and Konga Collections
- Either will provide a shared infrastructure at scale to make it easier for makers and designers to have access to tools and equipment they need to design and make shoes
- If either controls some of the brand rights, it will support the shoe makers to expand capacity in production. The firm will invest to boost capacity for the designers so that they can produce more shoes and leather materials
- Either will help the shoe makers improve qualityso that the shoes can be sold internationally
- Either will lead a pan-African structured advertising; the brand equity is there. Besides, Jumia, specifically, has deep experience in fashion through other entities in its parent Rocket Internet.
I am very confident that branding will unlock the opportunities in Aba, and the route to that will be having a differentiated label that brings some of the makers and players together. The fact is this: Jumia and Konga can give foreign shoe brands real heat in Nigeria if they build solid private brands by themselves through pure aggregation construct. They are not going to become makers, but they will set the standards, just as Uber does for drivers and Airbnb for homeowners, and the shoe makers will align.