Tanzania: New Jumia CEO Keen to Change Shopping Culture

Dar es Salaam — E-commerce is growing and Jumia Tanzania's new CEO Zadok Prescott aims at instilling an online shopping culture in the country

"I know the road to success is not a bed of roses. It has its ups and downs, but I want to ensure that Jumia delivers the goods at reasonable prices," says Mr Prescott.

That will be done through changing the mindset of Tanzanians.

The native of Zimbabwe, born in the 1980s, Prescott grew up and schooled there before moving to the UK for his secondary and university studies.

He is fluent in English and can speak basic Swahili, Ndebele, French and a little ancient Greek.

He holds a bachelor degree in engineering and a master's degree in theology from Oxford University.

He wants his company to serve its customers quickly and conveniently to their doors and pay on delivery, making sure that there is no risk!

"I am confident that, these three components will help people accelerate the adoption of online shopping in Tanzania and match the great e-commerce markets like China, the US and Europe," he notes.

However, he understands that online shopping in more developed internet markets accounts for 10-20 per cent of all retail, but there are no accurate figures in Tanzania.

"Right now in Tanzania we don't have accurate numbers but I would guess we are at less than 0.5 per cent of all retail platforms," he noted.

He is also aware that the majority of Tanzanians do not even consider online shopping as an option, despite the fact that they buy phones every year or two and most of them buy TV sets or cookers.

"The great thing about Jumia is its values, and one of my favorites is that 'you don't need a title to be a leader'. Right now retail is unfair to Tanzanians. Wages are low and prices are high. I want to ensure transparency and competition in the retail space to make products affordable to more customers every day."

Before joining Jumia as the CEO in March 2018, Mr Prescott worked in mergers and acquisition team of Millicom (the parent company of Tigo and Zantel).

Prior to that, he was a strategy consultant in Telecoms, Media and Technology Industries in the UK.

He says sometimes it is challenging to strike a balance between professional and social life.

This has made him lose some of his friends.

He loves tennis, reading novels and working, with little time of relaxing. Prescott is the father of three boys.

"I have been in many different leadership positions in my career - but none with quite the same level of responsibility and ultimate ownership of the success or failure of the business. So I'm working hard on improving my leadership and management skills at the same time as doing my best to contribute to the growth of the industry," he says.

"It can be quite a challenge to let juggle day to day tasks that I need to do and also commit the huge amount of time and energy needed to manage my teams properly."

According to him, the human brain never stops developing. He is a firm believer that it's never too late to learn new skills or to change a bad habit. It just takes a bit of dedication and belief.

He believes in winning his battle to change the mindset of Tanzanians to embrace the e-commerce culture.

His parents encouraged him to be a person he wanted to be, according to him.

However, he did not take any profession from his parents who influenced him to be who he is today.

"My mother was a computer programmer for most of her career, and then a live-in career for old people, and my father was a World War II RAF pilot, a teacher, headmaster and then a missionary."

They gave him freedom to hold on to his values and principles as the driving force for all he does, as the only way to stay motivated and steady even when time get challenging, and allow him to give his best and work towards something he believes in.

"Sometimes when you are young - the world can seem a bit magical and daunting - and that there are things that are just too big, impressive and beyond ones capability or understanding. But actually, once you break things down, even complex seemingly impossible tasks become possible," he noted.

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