Why Warriors’ Andre Iguodala joined African unicorn Jumia’s board of directors

Andre Iguodala, a key member of the Golden State Warriors basketball team, is no stranger to the tech industry. He’s invested in Tristan Walker’s Walker & Company, which has since been acquired by Procter & Gamble, electric scooter startup Lime and many others. Now, he’s joined the board of directors over at Jumia, an African e-commerce startup that became the continent’s first unicorn back in 2016.

“For me, it’s really important because I have a lot of roots in Africa with my father being from Nigeria,” Iguodala told TechCrunch over the phone this week. “I’m proud of that and willing to do a lot of things with a company that’s on the forefront of the e-commerce space as a whole.”

This is not Iguodala’s first time serving on a startup’s board of directors, but it’s the only one he’s currently serving on. Iguodala previously served on the board of Twice, an online clothing resale store, which eventually sold to eBay. At Jumia, Iguodala is on the compensation committee, where he looks at hiring, and how to attract talent and ensure Africans continue to have a place at the table. It’s worth noting that Jumia co-CEOs Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara are not African.

“We’re having conversations about diversity and making sure the African culture is in the company, and Sacha [CEO Sacha Poignonnec] is doing a great job with that,” Iguodala said. “I want to make sure we’re hiring from within and making sure the people we’re affecting and helping are involved with the company as far as hires go.”

Within Africa’s tech scene, there’s an ongoing conversation about the role of Westerners, expats and repats.

“That’s definitely something that’s been on my radar,” Iguodala told me. He pointed to how Africa has a wealth of natural resources, including petroleum, natural gas, gold, diamonds and more.

“Everyone is about growth and where they align themselves financially,” he said. “You can do it morally the right way.”

Iguodala says he’s also helped brainstorm new business opportunities for Jumia. For example, Iguodala said he suggested to Poignonnec that the startup expands into brick and mortar. Given the trend in America where e-commerce companies establish themselves online and then open brick and mortar locations (e.g. Amazon), Iguodala suggested that as a possibility for Jumia.

Down the road, Iguodala envisions exploring additional opportunities in Africa’s tech scene, but that it’s “not something I’m trying to rush.” He has a couple of trips to Africa planned for this summer, but his main focus right now is on Jumia.

“I feel really strongly about it especially because I have roots there,” Iguodala said. “I’m trying to incorporate the roots of Africa within the company and continue to expand and get people on the platform. There’s so much room for growth — not just for the company but for the continent.”