Kilakitu is the first online marketplace platform in the East African nation of Burundi. The founder has envisioned transforming shopping preferences of the people of Burundi via a Yo!Kart powered contemporary eCommerce platform. Read their interview with us.
Q. What was the inspiration behind choosing an e-commerce business? How did you come up with this idea?
I spent a major part of my childhood in Burundi (Central Africa). In the country, there was not a single (operating) e-commerce platform. In fact, I myself wasn’t aware of how online shopping actually works until I travelled to developed countries like the US and India where platforms like Amazon play such an important role in people’s lives.
Having a strong passion for adding value in people’s lives – and having experienced the value added by these (eCommerce) platforms through convenient access to a range of products in the market and the ease of those products getting home delivered, I felt the urge to introduce my own e-commerce platform and provide the same experience to the people of Burundi.
Q. How did you identify your target market?
Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world where around 50% of the population doesn’t have access to a smartphone, hence identifying the targeted market audience has been a huge task, causing most e-commerce startups not to be financially viable.
Online shoppers in the country are less than 5% due to the lack of know-how to use e-commerce platforms and hence our current goal is to not only explain the value added by our platform but also to teach how to utilize it. We are rigorously doing so by means of digital marketing and physical campaigns in order to expand our audience.
Q. How did you finalize the ideal eCommerce solution? Did you require any additional integrations or customizations?
I am not from a Computer Science background, so, I thoroughly researched to identify which solution to opt for – that would allow me to start and run an e-commerce platform without needing any additional training. And I found YoKart to be the best. YoKart is an overall complete solution for any e-commerce startup that provides most of the functionalities required to get started, Although, according to the location of the business operations, there are a few additional integrations that were required, such as local payment plugins, delivery tracker, messaging plugin and a few more. These were all provided and assisted to be incorporated by the YoKart team itself which facilitated the whole startup process.
Q. How did you define your Unique Selling Proposition for the users, to set yourself apart from established platforms in your niche?
We are one of the pioneers of e-commerce in Burundi, hence our USP is straightforward – Cheaper price & Home Delivery.
Q. What hurdles did you face initially? Can you share how did you overcome these hurdles?
E-commerce is still very new to the people of Burundi. They don’t rely on paying upfront for any product until they have their hands on it, hence we came up with Cash On Delivery model that helped us build trust with our customers.
Also, any e-commerce platform brings in most of its revenue through its subscription model but sellers in the country have a mental block for exposing their products and prices to the competition, so they are unwilling initially to come onboard. To navigate this challenge, we allowed sellers to first experience sales through our platform without paying a subscription fee, and only after that make a decision on whether they want to purchase a subscription or not.
Q. Can you share the experience of witnessing the first sale on the platform?
Witnessing the first sale made through my platform was like a dream come true. It felt like all the hard work is finally paying off. I still remember we charged no commission nor a delivery fee to our first customer and I myself fulfilled the delivery.
Q. What is your vision for the business going forward – let’s say 5 years down the line?
The vision of my company is to build an unparallel trust with our customers that allows them to completely rely on us for their daily purchases, while we assure them the best products at the cheapest prices and safe & timely delivery to their doorstep.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring eCommerce entrepreneurs like yourself? Any tips/success mantra that you would like to share?
Any business takes a lot of work to bring about results. An e-commerce business is a huge setup that requires consistent work and patience. Majority of people lose their passion due to the high burden of work involved – instead, slow and steady growth is all that’s required. Never lose the passion which made you start the business in the first place.