Yang Tao: Meet The Founder of Kilimall E-Commerce Platform 

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Yang Tao: Meet The Founder of Kilimall E-Commerce Platform 
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By Prudence Minayo

Kilimall is an online shopping mall based in Kenya. It is named after Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro. The name was inspired by the desire for the company to become the best shopping mall in Africa. In 2015 and 2017, it was named among top 10 online stores in Kenya. 

The online shopping mall offers a variety of products from electronics, beauty products, personal care, kitchenware, healthcare products, beddings, to baby products. It operates three e-commerce models, namely: 

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  • Global Shipping (GS)
  • Drop Shipping (DS): this is where local merchants store products at their own premises while selling on Kilimall
  • FBK: this is where both locals and global sellers are allowed to store products at Kilimall warehouses with no charges 

The company is the brainchild of Yang Tao who started it in July 2004. 

About 

The company’s main headquarters are located in Nairobi with strong presence in Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret. The company offers merchants a chance to sell locally and overseas and operates in Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya. Today, it’s ranked among the top five best e-commerce platforms in Africa. They hope to expand their reach to more countries including Tanzania and Ghana. 

Kilimall has been very instrumental in the building of Kenya’s economy. In May 2017, they were part of the campaign by the Kenyan government Buy Kenya Build Kenya. This was a campaign aimed at developing the country’s economy through promoting local manufacturers. Kilimall marketed some high quality brands from Kenya manufacturers. 

In 2016, Gionee launched a new stylish smartphone in the country which was launched in  partnership with Kilimall. The next year in August, Tecno spark was launched exclusive on Kilimall. In April 2018, Huawei Y7 Prime also launched in Kenya and started selling exclusively on the app. 

Yang Tao on founding Kilimall 

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The Chinese businessman was inspired to create the platform following his experience shopping in Africa. He found it expensive and lacking in variety. 

“There were two shopping choices: supermarkets and local markets frequented by residents. However, we usually could not find what we needed in local markets, and prices in supermarkets were extremely high – three to ten times of retail prices in China.”  He gave the example of a projector screen which costs 270 RMB in China, yet his colleague in Uganda bought one second-hand for over 3000 RMB. Apart from the expensive prices, choices were also limited. Yang Tao said that he once went into a supermarket in Lagos, Nigeria to buy umbrellas but found only one choice.

He created Kilimall to make shopping experience easier and to create affordable costs. Since most people sold their products using middlemen, the margins increased. Kilimall was created in order to connect consumers directly to merchandisers hence cutting down costs. 

Prior to founding Kilimall, Yang worked as a senior solutions manager at Huawei.

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