Kilimall, an e-commerce company, has shut down its Ugandan business according to Dennis Nyunyuzi who is familiar with the matters that I spoke to. "Kilimall is not operating in Uganda locally [anymore]," he said.
Dennis, who was partnering with Jay Cho - a Japanese businessman - to take over and revive Kilimall in Uganda locally, added that "it is only doing the international business".
For a while, Dennis and Jay Cho were locked in conversations with a team from Kilimall including one of the Chinese co-founders to take over the company's franchise in Uganda.
"Initially, when we went to Kenya to actually get the franchise, everything went well," he said.
Jay Cho's company, Pink Tie - which handles logistics for almost all e-commerce companies in Uganda - was also handling deliveries for Kilimall. And when the company started to struggle in the market, he had conversations with the co-founders.
He, therefore, teamed up with Dennis - who had just left Jumia Mall Uganda to take on the Kilimall in Uganda. Dennis had worked as a Category Manager at Jumia from way before the rebranding - when they were still called Kaymu - until October 2017.
With his experience, and Jay's superiority in logistics and fulfillment, they thought were the right people to take up the limping venture. "Ideally, I would control the commodity side of the entity, and he (Jay) would control the logistics and operations side of the entity," Dennis said.
The arrangement would give Dennis and Jay the majority stake - which they would split - while the Chinese co-founders would retain the minority stake.
This was initially a gentleman's agreement. "We had a verbal agreement," he said. Yet, when they advanced to formalize it, there were twists and turns.
"But as we continued to discuss and send an agreement to them, they turned it down. There's a certain business model they wanted to focus on and we were not aligned," he added.
However, the arrangements further hit a dead end when the co-founders suggested that both Dennis and Jay instead buy out the Ugandan franchise.
The conversations dragged on until early August this year when both parties decided to go separate ways. "So, my partner Jay at that time decided to let go of the business," Dennis said.
The cause of the disagreement stems from the differences in priority, business model, and strategy.
"So we wanted to do the local business as well as the international business but as the days went down they started changing that they wanted to focus on international business," Dennis said.
Both Dennis and Jay were big on local business as they deem it more lucrative compared to the international one. "We tried to tell them that if they could focus on the local business, we would be able to bring in another channel of revenue," he said.
Dennis and Jay were looking at leveraging their experience in the market. "For my case, I am partners with most of the brands so I am able to put most of them on the platform," he said.
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As for Jay, his company Pink Tie handles deliveries for Jumia Mall, Jumia Party, Jumia Food, KFC, Pizza Hut and a couple of other e-Commerce platforms in the country.
Yet, the co-founders were more inclined to focus on the international one. Before deciding to shut down the local business entirely, the international business was contributing a meager 0.5% to Kiliamall Uganda's business, according to him.
Jay's company - Pink Tie - is also likely to have completely cut ties with Kilimall, including the logistics support for their international business. Jay declined to comment on the issue when I visited him at his office yesterday in Naguru.
But, I was informed that he had requested Kilimall to pick up their remaining consignment in his warehouse.
Currently, if anyone orders a product from a Ugandan vendor on Kilimall, chances are they won't get it. I am not yet sure if those who are ordering from international vendors are still able to get there's. Though their website is still up and running.
Launched in Uganda in May 2016, Kilimall started going down from as early as late last year when they laid off a significant number of employees. But in a call with Wang Chengyang, the MD at that time, he denied it. And, yet, here we are.
The departure of Kilimall leaves Jumia as the major player in the local market. A player Dennis thinks has at least an 80% market share. He also placed a 15% market on Kikuu with the rest being scrambled for by other players.
Note: Some figures have been retracted from the article for privacy purposes. However, the context and accuracy of the information have not been tampered with.