Emilian Popa: The Power Of Investing In People

Emilian Popa: The Power Of Investing In People

When you hear the word “Jumia”, it brings two other words to mind, “Emilian Popa”. And then when you hear “Zando, Ilara”, what still comes to mind is Emilian Popa.

Our drone every Monday cannot travel over the Africa without taking giant pictures of Emilian Popa.

For over a decade, the investor and entrepreneur has been doing business on continent placing focus on the people in various capacities. This is the man that made Jumia, the well recognized e-commerce company in Africa, a thing.


He established Jumia in West Africa, Nigeria, and then extended his tentacles to launch an online clothing retailing business in South Africa called Zando.

Popa, humble and innocent looking has grew so tall and appreciated for his brilliant ideas that continue to shape the African economy. He brought about Naspers-backed Africa Internet Accelerator and spent years investing in growth-stage tech-enabled companies via DiGAME Investment.

Currently in East Africa, Kenya precisely, he co-founded and spearheads Ilara Health, a Kenya-based diagnostic solutions company.

What else can people ask for that Popa isn’t ready to provide? Speaking of Ilara, he said:

“My latest venture, Ilara Health, in which I’ve also taken the CEO role, aside from a significant personal investment, makes common diagnostics accessible and affordable to the 500 million people in Africa who today struggle to access even basic blood tests.

We do this by partnering with companies using robotics and AI to lower the cost of diagnostics, integrate their devices into our tech platform, and sell this bundle to doctors with financing,”

Despite creating and letting go of over 20 technology ventures in Africa; Middle East; Asia; and Russia, it hasn’t been a swift journey. Regardless, he continues to invest in people and mostly business models he understands perfectly. He said in an interview:

“I invest in people and in models which I understand operationally either from my past ventures, or from the investments I’ve made and where I can bring value to the founders at various levels: process, strategy, governance, recruitment, fundraising.

“I would like to spend more time in the West Francophone Africa, where I’ve screened a number of opportunities in the past years.

“I see so many amazing opportunities and entrepreneurs; I want to support them in building businesses, in taking them to the next stage of growth,”

By Elijah Christopher

Elijah Christopher

Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.

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