When opportunity knocks, some build a shop around it
With an MBA in Strategy, Innovation and Emerging Markets from the ESSEC School of Business in Paris, Candace Nkoth Bisseck is an advocate for moving back to Africa to invest her experience in the upliftment of her community.
“Ten years ago, I was in an abusive relationship and decided the only way out was to return to school, change my life and gain financial independence,” says Nkoth. “In 2014 I moved back home to Cameroon from France to run an e-commerce website that gives local merchants a digital platform to sell their products beyond their hometown.”
Nkoth is passionate about leveraging digital innovation to give people access to better economic opportunities. “My team and I had to assist many of our vendors to open an email account and set up their online store on Kaymu.” By 2015, Kaymu (which would go on to become Jumia Market) was one of the most popular online shopping destinations in Cameroon, and as the country manager, Nkoth found herself spending more and more of her time engaging with companies, universities and associations who were looking to learn from her expertise and personal journey.
“Gradually, I realised that what I really wanted to do was mentor people who were interested in using technology as an enabler for improving lives, businesses and communities.”
That same year, she was named #1 on the Forbes Afrique Top 30 under 30 List, and more recently, in 2018 she was selected for the Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa programme.
“Many women want to know how they can make a real difference in the quality of other’s lives,” she says. “I put a lot of focus on mentoring women and encouraging them. I sometimes suffer from imposter syndrome where I don’t believe I am good enough. This is where my relationship with the Obama Foundation is making a huge difference. There are 200 people who hold you accountable and help you move forward when you are paralysed with self-doubt. It is an incredibly positive experience.”
In 2017, Nkoth moved on from the Jumia Group to join the Western African arm of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Seed Transformation Programme, which focuses on empowering business owners in emerging economies using innovation.