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Sailing to the African Continent: A Hunan Lad Conquering Africa’s E-Commerce Industry

Local Employees Kilimall

Overlooking Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, a young man from Hunan made a secret promise a decade ago — to create Africa’s top E-Commerce platform. This vow led to the birth of Kilimall, an E-Commerce giant that has transformed African markets, built on trust and determination.

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In the early days, Tao’s small living space housed big dreams. The memory of goods stored beneath his bed inspired his entrepreneurial spirit. “The house we were living in at the time was probably bigger than this one (he says this while gesturing to a room he is in). When I saw this mattress, I recall that under my bed was full of goods,’’ Kilimall CEO Yang Tao said.

From this modest beginning, Kilimall emerged as a symbol of trust, pioneering a unique payment-before-delivery system, something rare in Africa’s E-Commerce landscape. ‘’In Africa, trust is a very valuable product, every other purchase represents trust and we also hope that we deserve the trust of African people in us,’’ he added.

Kilimall’s impact was twofold: it bridged cultures and nurtured business growth. With a warehouse covering 10,000 square meters, the platform offers over a million products, delivering an average of 100,000 goods daily.

Kilimall’s influence extended beyond trade, fostering mutual trust between African and Chinese markets. Hunan’s Gaoqiao Market played a pivotal role, serving as an incubator for African live streaming E-Commerce.

African products like Kenyan tea, Ethiopian coffee, Rwanda’s chilli sauce and Tanzania’s cashew nuts gained popularity, while Chinese specialities found their way into African households.

“We not only have exported goods to Africa from Gaoqiao Market but also imported lots of African products to China and display them in Gaoqiao market all year round,’’ Mr Tao added.

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This cross-border exchange led to affordable goods for ordinary families and significant global market shares for Hunan’s commodities. Trade volume between Hunan and Africa surged, with a 42.8% year-on-year increase in 2022, positioning Hunan at the forefront of economic growth.

Kilimall’s innovation reached offline as well, with over 1000 Kilimall shops across Kenya addressing logistical challenges. This move created jobs and strengthened ties between China and Africa.

‘’When I was working in Hunan, I experienced a lot of convenience with online shopping, fellow Kenyans should also come on board in E-Commerce and experience the same kind of convenience that I also experienced while working in Hunan,’’ said Silas Musyoka, a local seller Growth Manager of Kilimall.

In June, the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Changsha City further underlined the collaboration between the two nations.

Kilimall’s journey captures the power of E-Commerce in fostering mutual prosperity, breaking barriers, and nurturing trust that spans continents.

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