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Africa News of Friday, 28 May 2021


Kelsoko: Tanzanian trading platform cast in mould of Amazon and Alibaba

Kelsoko is an online business platform Kelsoko is an online business platform

At 21, Kelvin Assenga may be one of the youngest company owners in Tanzania. He is a founder of Kelsoko Company Limited that he started on April 5, 2021 to facilitate online businesses.

Under the firm, he created a platform that enables wholesalers and entrepreneurs to sell their products via online auctions.

In this exclusive interview with The Citizen’s Alfred Zacharia Assenga reveals more about the company.

Who is Kelvin Assenga?

I am a Tanzanian, born on July 7, 2000 in Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam. I attended pre-school education at Academic International School before joining St Mary’s International School for primary education.

I then attended Msolwa (St Gasper) Secondary School for Ordinary-Level studies and later Azania Secondary School for Advanced-Level education.

Then, I decided to follow my dream starting my own company. My hobbies are reading, watching TV shows and movies, programming and robotics.

How long did it take you to establish the company?

It took me about four months to establish Kelsoko, thus turning it from an idea to a company. It required determination, hard work and self-discipline.

I started with a capital of Sh3 million, hoping this would turn into billions of shillings through company shares in the near future. My co-founder Nasir Omari Amiri and I have entered into a partnership with the large global companies DHL and Aramex.

How does the company operate?

It’s simple, you go to and create a seller’s account. It requires a few steps to fill in a form; verify the information filled – and then open a seller’s account.

With the account, the trader is able to sell the products by uploading a picture, with description of the product and price. The platform gives a chance to wholesalers to choose the language and currency to be used.

The auction sellers must select the top menu bar and go to where they will be able to register themselves and start posting their merchandise for sell online.

The platform also links traders with international shipping services within only three days under the supervision of international cargo handlers DHL Company and Aramex Company at affordable cost.

links Tanzanians to the African and global markets. The platform is one of the largest in Africa. We’re following in the footsteps of Alibaba.

What are the opportunities and challenges for your business?

The big opportunity is the introduction of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was launched in January 2021.

The trade platform will enable a well-established system to participate in continental trade, the growth of technology in Africa and increased Internet and mobile use compared to the past.

The Covid-19 pandemic also gives us hope since it has forced more businesses to shift from traditional ways of doing business to digital platforms.

The big challenge for the platform is the fear of many of our customers to diversify and use technology to buy and sell their products. Poor infrastructure also hinders the speed of trade whereby delivery may take too long than promised.

Low investment in the region is another challenge because most people are still not connected to the otherwise ubiquitous Internet.

Is the future of the online marketing sector in Tanzania promising? Why

Indeed, it is bright. Unlike the previous years, cross-border business in the East African Community and its trade routes are now trying hard to use technology due to improved use of the Internet among populations in the region.

Tanzania has the potential to become a market leader in this area – especially considering its strategic geographical location, its well-established bilateral and multilateral relations and the use of online wallets and payment system by a majority of its population.

All these enable it to fit in just fine in the online marketing. We () hope we can help strengthen this further.

What do your parents do for a living?

My father, Jabir Assenga, is a driver working with the United Nations in Tanzania and also an entrepreneur. My mother, Theofrida Kihwele, is also an entrepreneur.

How did they influence you to become who you are today and what are the lessons you learned from them?

My parents taught me a lot, and have inspired me so much to do what I do. They are hard workers, intelligent and creative. Mostly, they help other people and they do it because it is the right thing to do. They are supportive and caring always – and that is what makes them my heroes.

What are the major obstacles you have faced in life, as also in the business and how did you manage to surmount them?

Like other upcoming entrepreneurs, I lacked start-up capital because I was not born into a rich family. But I learnt that you sometimes don’t really need much to start something in life.

Also one doesn’t need to be perfect, or produce the very perfect products to succeed in business. This is a myth and an excuse that many entrepreneurs make. All we just need is to be unique, original in thinking, resourceful and creative and never forget your vision and mission.

Can you share with our esteemed readers what shaped you into the successful person you are today?

My parents, friends… But, mostly: myself. I motivated myself to dream big and imagine a world where everyone mattered and I wanted to contribute to make that world possible.

What is your plan for the future? Where do you see yourself in the next five years or so?

I see a limitless world in the near future. I see myself as among the people who solved the hunger and other poverty related problems through online trade.

What do you wish to change in Tanzanian online trade?

My major plan is to connect the country with other African countries and the world so that we get a chance to buy and sell in a larger markets. is a free platform to sell and buy goods where everyone has an equal chance – and no one will really wleft behind.

America has Amazon. Asia has Alibaba. Europe has E-Bay – and Africa has Kelsoko. Now, we can proudly say that we have our own African Trade platform where its people can sell, buy and reap profits.