In a brief interview with Guillaume Raffy, Head of JForce & Sales. He shares with us insights about his move to Nigeria and why he decide to take up the task as the new face of Jforce. Formerly an investment banker, he tells us more that what taking up the job means.
Can you introduce yourself briefly?
My name is Guillaume Raffy, but most people here call me “Raffy” because it is quite difficult to pronounce my first name! (Which means “William” in French)
Is this Your First time working in Nigeria?
Yes… it is actually my first time in sub-Saharan Africa.
Recently you took over from the post of Head of Sales. Tell us how challenging it has been to fill the role.
Most people are new to e-commerce here, so there a lot of education work involved and we even need to convince potential clients that we are not another internet scam. Then, once we finalise our first sale with a customer, our mission is to keep them coming back for more, and make ordering online part of their daily lives. It is a great challenge, worth waking up for every morning.
What influenced you to take up the role as Head of Sales?
I had worked in more traditional Industries before as Head of Sales (Investment Banking in the UK, Food & Beverage in the US), and I wanted to apply my skills to a more dynamic and faster-growing segment of the economy. I am now responsible for a large part of Jumia’s overall revenues and manage more than 80 employees on a full-time basis throughout Nigeria, so there is never an opportunity to feel bored!
Comparing The J-force Scheme with similar programs in Europe and Africa, what sets Nigeria apart?
I don’t like to generalize, but my overall impression of Nigerians is that they are very courageous, self-reliant, and ready to take a lot of risk to create their own business. They are hard-working, money-hungry, open for any challenge, with a fantastic can-do attitude. This mindset makes Nigeria an amazing environment to launch our JForce program.
What are your thoughts on the economic situation presently?
Nigeria needs to be less dependent on oil and other commodities, move up the value chain to produce their own goods, refine themselves the oil extracted on their own soil, and in general be less dependent on imports and more competitive on their exports. Tax money needs to be collected in a rational and efficient way; it should be spent on infrastructure, instead of being wasted on “white elephants” projects and an enormous amount of bribes [Nigeria currently ranks 136th out of 163 countries for corruption, according to Transparency International].
What do you think about Nigeria as a whole, being your first time working here?
Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, and one of the most populated countries on the planet, yet it is rather unknown in other parts of the world, with a rather “dodgy” reputation: “419 scam” and similar schemes, bombings with Boko Haram, diseases with Ebola, kidnappings, etc.
I enjoy seeing the real face of this country, away from the international clichés, and have developed personal friendships with many Nigerians. I’m a big fan of the culture (especially Yoruba music and Olamide!) and the local food (I even tried “amala” the first week I was in Lagos) and became very attached to this country.
What are your plans in making the Jforce program better than you met it?
Recruit new motivated agents all over the country, train them in the best possible way, and make them sell to anyone around them who lives and breathes… we have more than 100,000 different items on Jumia’s website, so the sky is the limit to what our agents can sell and money they can make.
Your Philosophy of life?
Work hard, play hard. Never forget to enjoy the present moment and be thankful to the people around you for making your existence a real blessing. And remember… in order to climb any mountain, no matter how tall, all you need is to take a first step. Actions in your life will always speak louder than words: so make bold things happen today and don’t procrastinate.
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.” —Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company founder. Meaning of this quote: what we think shapes our reality and our attitude determines our fate. So think positively, be ambitious, don’t take no for an answer, and you’ll be highly successful.