Outgoing Jumia CEO Shares His Journey Building E-Commerce in Africa
Top-tier African e-commerce company, Jumia, will have a change of leadership at the helm with Sam Chappatte paving the way for Betty Mwangi.
CIO Africa caught up with the man who has led Jumia to become a revered e-commerce platform in the country. Chappatte talked to our reporter about the journey the firm has had, as well as his own personal story.
There is more to Sam Chappatte than meets the eye. He has had a journey in his life so far. Despite having grown up and studied in Europe, Sam always wanted to work in Africa. He was always on the lookout for ideas that will thrive in Africa. He always knew this continent possesses opportunities.
The outgoing Jumia boss grew up in the United Kingdom and schooled in both Belgium and London. He did his bachelors at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He then had his Masters in Management at ESCP Europe, doing a year in London and a year in Madrid.
He jokes about his year at Madrid where he ‘pretended’ to speak Spanish and wrote his essays using google translate.
Sam joined Boston Consulting Group (BCG) immediately after Uni and stayed there for 4-5 years. However, during this time, he was still thinking of what he could do in Africa.
“When I joined BCG, I wanted to get exposure to different industries & spend as much time on the ground on the Continent as I could. I was the guy they sent to the off the beaten track places. I got to know Botswana’s mines pretty well. When I made the jump from BCG, I was looking to join a team that had set out with a big mission in Africa. That’s when my journey with Sacha, Jeremy and Jumia kicked off,” Chappatte told our reporter.
“It wasn’t that obvious a move at the time. My friends thought I was nuts. I took a 50% pay-cut and a flight to Ghana just as the Ebola outbreak was heating up,” he explains ,”I then spent the first couple of months sleeping on a mattress in my intern’s apartment.”
At the time Sam moved to Ghana, Jumia & the e-commerce industry they kicked off were just getting going. Jumia had launched in the first set of markets, with Nigeria as the crown jewel. Sam joined to lead the expansion into 6 new countries, and later permanently settled in Kenya. Over the last 5 years he’s built the business into the household name we identify with today.
Sam identifies Kenya as one of the best places anyone can live, and has long term plans to live here.
“We love Kenya. My wife is an entrepreneur, she started a business called Kenyan Originals (a cider & craft beverage company). We both see amazing opportunities in Kenya. I hope I can continue to play a part in the growth of the digital economy in Kenya long term. We want to bring up our kids here too. They are obviously already speaking better Swahili than us,” Sam says.
“Nairobi is a great hub of smart, ambitious, worldly people. The ecosystem is getting more & more exciting, and I believe will continue to retain & attract some of the world’s top talent. It’s a great place to live.,” the former Jumia boss noted.
From sleeping on a mattress at his intern’s apartment to playing a key part in the emergence of the biggest e-commerce company in Africa, Sam Chappatte is a man who loves to take on challenges. His hobby is mountaineering and is on the look out for the next mountain to climb.