News & Highlights

  • OCTOBER 2017

Financing Africa's Infrastructure

CNBC Africa recently interviewed John Macomber, Senior Lecturer and Faculty Chair for HBS activities in Africa, while traveling in West Africa in October. He discusses how infrastructure deficit exists on the African continent because capital is not efficiently matched to infrastructure projects.
  • May 2017

Adebayo Ogunlesi JD/MBA 1979 Receives 2017 Alumni Achievement Award

Born and raised in Nigeria, Adebayo Ogunlesi JD/MBA 1979 was one of six alumni who received the 2017 HBS Alumni Achievement Award, an important award given to HBS' most distinguished graduates since 1968. Today Ogunlesi runs Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), one of the world's leading investment funds focused on infrastructure, and manages a portfolio of projects around the world.
  • May 2017

MBA Admissions Director in Africa

It's outreach season for the HBS MBA Admissions team, and this year it meant that MBA Admissions Director, Chad Losee MBA 2013, had the opportunity to visit Africa for the first time. He brought HBS on the road, hosting well-attended prospective student events in Ghana, Nigeria and the Cote D'Ivoire. Later this summer he'll be making additional trips to both South Africa and Kenya.

New Research on the Region

  • October 2017
  • Case

Jumia Nigeria: from Retail to Marketplace

By: Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Namrata Arora

Founded in 2012, Jumia Nigeria, a startup effort by Germany-based Rocket Internet, aimed to become an African Amazon. The company entered the nascent market and immediately enjoyed an uptick in consumer spending fueled by the strength of Nigeria’s oil-based economy. By 2016, however, Jumia’s growth had begun to taper, hindered by plummeting oil prices, the subsequent economic downturn, and the pressure of Nigeria’s limited retail ecosystem. In addition, Jumia’s inventory-intensive retail model required significant infusions of capital that, in the face of a deteriorating economy and the company’s inability to show a profit, was becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Considering all this and looking to the success of the Amazon and Alibaba marketplace models where third-party sellers largely carried inventory costs, the Board had made a drastic decision: Jumia would shift from an online retail model to a marketplace model. They also made it very clear that a failure to properly implement this transition could mean the end of investor support for Jumia. Senior management wondered how they would meet the challenges ahead. While Amazon in the US and Alibaba in China had found success with the marketplace model, they wondered if Jumia would be able to do the same. Was this the right model for the very different Nigerian environment? Would vendors, many of whom already had retail operations in the country, choose to sell through Jumia? How could Jumia continue to provide the same high quality customer service on which the company’s success had been built while switching to a marketplace model in which parts of this critical aspect would now be in the hands of third parties?

  • October 2017
  • Teaching Material

Jumia Nigeria: from Retail to Marketplace (B)

By: Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Namrata Arora

This follow up case study explores the ramifications of Jumia's decision to move from a retail-led to a markplace business model for its e-commerce platform. The case visits the company's successes as well as its many failures when adopting this vendor-led strategy. It also considers Jumia's options going forward—should it return to the retail-led model or develop a hybrid alternative?

  • October 2017
  • Article
  • American Historical Review

American Danger: United States Empire, Eurafrica, and the Territorialization of Industrial Capitalism, 1870–1950

During the last third of the nineteenth century, a debate emerged in a number of European countries on the “American danger.” Responding to the rapid rise of the United States as the world’s most important economy, some European observers feared their nations’ declining competitiveness in the face of the territorial extent of the United States and its ability to integrate a dynamic industrial sector with ample raw material supplies, agriculture commodities, markets, and labor into one national economy. This “second great divergence” provoked a range of responses, as statesmen, capitalists, and intellectuals advocated for territorial rearrangements of various European economies, a discussion that lasted with greater or lesser intensity from the 1870s to the 1950s. Their sometimes competing and sometimes mutually reinforcing efforts focused on African colonialism, European integration, and violent territorial expansion within Europe itself. Using the debate as a lens to understand the connections between a wide range of policy responses, this article argues that efforts to territorialize capitalist economies delineate a particular moment in the long history of capitalism, and it demonstrates the unsettling effects of the rise of the United States on European powers.

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Johannesburg Staff

Pippa Tubman Armerding