Perennially broke? Then why not become a JForce agent and be your own boss

The month is finally coming to an end today. However, most of us are not out of the woods yet and this should not be mistaken to mean that the troubles and challenges people faced in January with finances is behind us. Remember January has 45 – and not 31 – days, stretching all the way from mid December to end of January.

But while most of us have been precariously juggling our budgets and moving from one financial challenge to the other in January, there are those who just glided through the month, with no worry at all relating to matters finance or budgets.

(TOP: Juma Cheja, the best JForce agent in the year, holds the dummy cheque for his trip to Dubai with Clarice Odando, the JForce Manager, Jumia Kenya).

Among the group that seems not to have been affected by the January cash crunch are not the salaried but the self-employed. And some of them – in fact thousands – work and earn their upkeep as JForce agents, a Jumia programme for freelance sales representatives.

Established in 2013, the JForce had by the beginning of last year attracted about 3,000 agents programme making orders on behalf of clients and later earning their commissions once the items are delivered to customers.

In an interview, Clarice Odando, the JForce Manager, said that the program has so far recruited and trained more than 6,000 agents since its inception in 2013, more than half of whom joined within the course of the previous year.

“Our aim is to recruit 20,000 agents by the end of 2018. In the process, Jumia hopes to bring much needed self-employment to youth across the country, in line with Jumia’s vision to change people’s lives through the internet,” said Odando.

But how does one become a JForce agent, how easy – or difficult – is it to join the program?

Odando says that not much is much is needed for someone to become a JForce agent. All one needs is a smartphone that can access the internet after which they go to the platform, register and beginning making orders on behalf of their clients. And joining the JForce program doesn’t really need a prospective agent to have cash.

Anyone, regardless of their background or educational achievements, can become a JForce agent by signing up for an account, receive free sales and digital training from the Jumia team and then begin making orders and earning their commissions. This means that the program is open to anyone who is ready and willing to sell.

While there’s no difference in pricing whether a client buys direct or through a JForce agent, the program is beneficial to those who’re not tech-savvy and thus unable to navigate through the site to make their own orders as it creates a lot of convenience as it enables them to make purchases through a third party more flexibly. It’s basically an avenue for those who’re not online to buy items from Jumia.

“What the JForce agents do is that they buy or place orders on behalf of customers and get their commissions once the order has been delivered to the clients. With JForce, we aim to bring on board and attract those who’re currently not online and unable to use the platform to also make purchases from the Jumia platform via an agent or third party,” noted Odando.

After signing up, an agent can – without investing any capital to purchase products – sell a huge variety of products (over 700,000) to customers in their neighbourhoods, thereby becoming their own bosses.

For every sale, JForce agents earn commissions ranging from 3 to 10 per cent. The commissions are calculated according to the categories of the products and items sold as well as the quantities moved in the preceding month.

Consistent and hand-working (and lucky) agents get paid even up to Kshs 1 million per month in commissions depending on the volume of sales made.

And talking of commissions, I can’t forget to mention Juma Cheja. Juma Cheja was introduced to the JForce program in October last year by a friend. He then reluctantly signed up for the program the following month in November.

“I had quit my former job working as a sales rep for XTigi mobile phones in 2016 and when I joined, JForce I had been out of job for over a year. After joining, I approached my previous clients asking them for orders and luckily, my first order was 10,000 mobile phones. Then others also followed during the month,” said Cheja during a get-together organized by Jumia to recognize and award JForce who’d performed well last year.

For his efforts, Cheja was surprised when he received an account notification that over Kshs 200,000 had been transferred to him from Jumia as commission for November 2017. This came just a month after he’d joined the JForce program.

“In December, I became even bolder and decided to talk to even more of my previous clients. I ended up making sales of more than Kshs 28 million in that month, with a commission of about Kshs 500,000. I just bought a car with the commissions, the key is with my wife,” an elated Cheja told me, while pointing at his wife who’d the car keys.

No wonder he emerged the overall winner of an all-expenses paid trip to Dubai for 5 days during which he‘ll get to share best practice with the wider Jumia team at the firm’s head offices.

Of course not all of us are gifted salesmen – or have such a wide client network – as Cheja. Remember his focus is B2B (business-to-business), meaning that he sells to retailers who buy in bulk and later sell the same mobile phones to individual users and earn their margin.

But at least one can start somewhere, by first registering an account, getting trained on how to use the JForce platform before embarking on the selling process. And later start earning commissions which can help you offset some bills and expenses, like the forthcoming Valentine’s treat for the girlfriend (for the men that is).


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