What are WeChat Stores and how are they connecting foreign brands with the Chinese market?

Created by Internet giant Tencent, Wechat is the most popular instant messaging software in China, with 1,200 million users around the world and more than 1,000 million are in China, which means this app exists in almost every mobile phone in China.

Wechat is more than an app for communication, it is an ecosystem. With many functional modules embedded into this app, Wechat has become an irreplaceable part of the daily life of Chinese people: they enable to provide advanced features to users such as e-commerce, virtual store tour, task management, entertainment, and other services.

What are mini programs?

The components to achieve these functions are called mini programs. Compared to traditional software, mini programs are “lighter”, as they are accessible via Wechat without the need to download them independently. Users can open these mini programs via links or QR codes quickly, and once quit, nothing will remain on their phones.

Unlike public social media like Twitter or TikTok, Wechat focuses on the private sphere, which means users merely receive information with friends they have added, accounts they followed, and mini programs they used. Therefore, mini programs are mainly spread by users’ mutual share instead of algorithm-based recommendations, although they can also attract people with advertisements.

Read more about Wechat mini programs here:


What are the advantages of social media e-commerce in private sphere?

This mode makes a mini program less likely to expand the scale of users as quickly as shops or accounts on other platforms. However, their users are more loyal and more enduring, as Wechat mini programs and accounts can maintain existence in users’ sight by sending a message unless they cancel the subscription.

Wechat is not a traditional e-commerce player, but it is an emerging and powerful one. Based on strong traffic in private sphere, Wechat e-commerce experienced unexpected growth. In 2019, Wechat mini programs have achieved a total transaction value of CNY 900 billion, and Wechat announced that the annual increase of gross merchandise volume from 2019 to 2021 was 100%.

What is Weidian?

Another important innovation in the Wechat ecosystem is Weidian. In 2012, with the launch of the WeChat group function, “weishang(micro-businesses)”, which sell goods to other users through WeChat groups and moments, began to rise. To capture this opportunity, Wedian was founded in 2014. Through Weidian, a person can easily start a shop with a smartphone and a Wechat app.

Weidian is a social e-commerce platform, shop owners can not only keep in touch with customers via Wechat (moments, official accounts, mini programs, as well as video and live-streaming) but also promote via Weidan’s own community. Nowadays, Weidian owns over 90 million sellers and more than 3 billion items on sale.

Which stores are selling African products on Wechat?

Kiliselect is one of the mini program shops that sell African products on Wechat. As the Chinese version of Kilimall, the rich experience of running cross-border e-commerce is a great asset for Kiliselect. Besides, AR has also established cooperation with “高桥优选(Gaoqiao Preferred)”, which is operated by Gaoqiao Grand Market, the third biggest wholesale market in China. It is also an important part of the China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation Promotion Innovation Demonstration Park in Hunan’s free trade zone for Africa-China trade. Both the platforms are supported by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), which gives it a lot of support in terms of promotion and import procedures. Africa Reimagined has a dedicated “Africa Reimagined” section in this store.

Depending on Wechat ecosystem, these shops are accessible via Wechat official accounts, video, live streaming, and paid promotion. For example, Gaoqiao grand market runs an official account that posts articles about African brands. These articles can be shared in Wechat Moments and groups so that some of them has got thousands of page views. Further more, readers can visit the online shops via QR codes and links in those articles. This mode successfully transfer the users of Wechat into clients of e-commerce platforms.

To learn more about Wechat, WeChat stores and how to sell on the Kiliselect store, please book your free consultation on our website: https://www.africareimagined.com/


Trevor Lwere

Research and Coordination Analyst

Trevor Lwere is a Research and Coordination analyst at Development Reimagined with a background in Economics and Global Affairs. His interests include geopolitics, geoeconomics and economic development. He holds a Masters’ degree in Global Affairs fro Tsinghua University and a BA Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

Yujie Shi

 Policy and Research Analyst

Yuejie Shi is a Research and Data Analyst at Development Reimagined with a special focus on Global Trade and China-Africa Trade.

Sena Voncujovi

Research Analyst

Sena Voncujovi is a research and policy analyst at Development Reimagined. Voncujovi specializes in global health issues, Japan-Africa relations, and China-Africa relations. He served as the Editor-in-chief of Peking University’s Africa Think Tank (PATT) during his master’s in International Relations & Politics as a Yenching Scholar. Voncujovi previously advised the Ghanaian government for the 2019 TICAD 7 Conference held in Yokohama. He is the co-founder of Jaspora, Tokyo’s largest community of African diasporan diplomats, changemakers, professionals, students, and business people.

Rugare Mukanganga


Rugare is an economist at Development Reimagined, providing economic and data analysis support across projects.

Yixin Yu

Research Analyst

Yixin is a Junior Research Analyst and her focus areas is on public-private partnership and entrepreneurship. She has over three years of working experience in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia. She was the China Liaison Officer for project ‘Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa’ at International Trade Centre, where she accumulated rich experience in investment and trade promotion.

Ivory Kairo

Communications Support

Ivory is a Kenyan lawyer with experience in policy research and analysis. She also supports the communications team through liaising with African brands, creating graphic content and other external outputs at AR. Ivory speaks English, Swahili and French

Huiyi Chen

Partnership Development

Huiyi Chen is a Research and Coordination Analyst on China-Africa cooperation and leading the engagement with Chinese stakeholders at Development Reimagined.

Jinyu Chen

Research Analyst | Paris, France

Jinyu is a dual-degree Master’s student at Sciences Po & Peking University.  At Africa Reimagined, Jinyu produces research to foster better mutual understanding between African clients and Chinese consumers. 


Jade Scarfe

Communications Support
Jade is a research analyst and communication support at Africa Reimagined. She supports with liaising with African brands, creating content and gathering China market research.

Yike Fu

China-Africa Policy Analyst

Yike Fu is a Policy Analyst and has been responsible for leading numerous areas of work, including on debt analysis in Africa and beyond, and China-Africa trade and investment logistics and analysis. She is the co-author of “African Debt Guide”, in which she challenged the narrative that Africa is in the midst of a new debt crisis by analysing data back to the 1970s and adopting new metrics to present the real story behind the data. She also developed a benchmark to compare the financial distribution of development partners such as the UK, US, Japan, France and China in Africa. Prior to her role at DR she worked at the International Finance Corporation and African Union Representational Mission to the US. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.

Rosie Wigmore

Project Manager | Beijing, PRC

Rosie is the Project Manager of Africa Reimagined (AR) at Development Reimagined (DR) where she supports high-end African brands with entering the Chinese market by operating services such as trademark protection, Chinese market research, Chinese partnership building, and Africa to China logistical support and import/export services. Rosie has worked with DR for over two years now with proven success in helping high-end African brands navigate the Chinese market. She is extremely passionate about her work because more African brands selling in the Chinese marketplace means African countries can export MORE value-added goods, create MORE jobs and foster MORE innovation in African countries.

Leah Lynch

Deputy Director | Beijing, PRC

Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.

Hannah Ryder

Founder and CEO 

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE’s International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.


We support our clients throughout the whole onboarding and sales process on Chinese e-commerce platforms including registration, international and China-mainland logistics, storage, payment transfers, and marketing & advertising strategies.

In addition to supporting our clients with onboarding onto e-commerce platforms or developing their own WeChat stores, we also have our own Africa Reimagined e-commerce stores for our clients to sell on.
Kiliselect on WeChat Stores: Africa Reimagined launched on Kiliselect, which is a foremost e-commerce store for premium African products in China and the Chinese branch of East Africa’s Kilimall. It houses brands from a range of sectors including food and beverage, skincare and homeware. Kiliselect is found on WeChat Stores, which gives the store access to 1.2 billion active WeChat users across China.
JD-Worldwide: Next year, Africa Reimagined will open the first ever flagship, pan-Africa e-commerce store for premium African brands on JD-Worldwide, the cross-border e-commerce platform of China’s largest retailer, JD.com. It will sell exclusively luxury African brands from a range of sectors including, fashion and jewellery, food and beverage, skincare. and homeware.