Shares of African e-commerce start-up Jumia Technologies (NYSE:JMIA) have surged more than 456% in 2020, as investors looking for the next big e-commerce stock have piled into the company's shares on the expectation that its first-mover status in some of Africa's biggest economies will pay off with huge gains. 

But so far, Jumia hasn't delivered the same sort of high-growth results as other e-commerce companies around the world. Some initial struggles in multiple markets led to the company taking a step back and refocusing on the best markets, and getting to cash-flow-positive results more quickly. Active customers are up 23% and orders have climbed a modest 9%. 

But is Jumia a safe investment? On the Nov. 30 edition of "The Wrap" on Motley Fool Live, host Jason Hall pointed out some of the challenges the company faces, and why he thinks it is the riskiest of the international e-commerce stocks right now. 


Jason Hall: Let's see what else we got here. Jumia, a recent four-bagger. Any business-related news or is it just just riding along with some of the other international e-commerce plays? It's riding the tide. It reported earnings -- It's been a little while since it reported. They weren't super-duper great. They were OK.

Just there's a lot of optimism on e-commerce, and here's my take. I just want to say this on Jumia, and maybe you guys can add something to it. Last-mile in Africa, and a lot of the places in Africa that Jumia is targeting, seems to be really hard. Less infrastructure, a lot of having to contract local deliveries. Like there's a lot of different cultural things in terms of commerce as well. I've read some articles, I've really taken a close look at it.

Delivery drivers bring in the products, the buyer taking it, physically testing it, like buying a toaster and making toast with it, or making tea with a teapot, and then negotiating with the delivery driver on the final price before they will pay for the goods. It's a really tough market.

I think it is a company that they figured some things out. They've cut costs, they walked away from some markets and really focused. They're trying to figure it out. They're just burning a ton of cash and they got to get to that cash flow break even point. JumiaPay is a nice thing. It's a little bolt-on electronics payment platform which has grown a ton. I think this is definitely the highest risk of any of the high-growth international e-commerce stocks out there. I think by far, it's the riskiest.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.