Last week, James Kimonyo, the Ambassador of Rwanda to China, surprised many when he boarded a bike and delivered Rwandan coffee to a client who had ordered for it online. Clad in a delivery personnel’s outfit, the diplomat, along with workers of JD.com, a popular ecommerce company in China, visited the home of the client, delivered her order and signed a certificate of thanks to her, for supporting Rwandan products. This is just one of the ways that the Rwandan Embassy in China is attempting to get the attention of the Chinese consumers, in a country that boasts a very competitive e-commerce industry and a massive digital economy. Since most of the transactions are done online, the usual marketing tools cannot work in China. This is why the Embassy has been shifting to new efforts to connect to the Chinese consumers and letting them know about what Rwanda has to offer. “We have to depart from the conventional way of marketing our products. The Chinese citizens are so fixated on their phones. More than 1 billion people are using their mobile phones to buy, sell and perform other transactions,” Ambassador Kimonyo told The New Times in an interview this week. “If you do marketing in the usual way, it is not going to work. That is why livestreaming and the use of online platforms is becoming extremely important for anyone who would want to market here,” he added. For some time now, the embassy has been working with big e-commerce companies like Alibaba, Tmall and JD.com to organise livestreamed auctions of Rwandan products like coffee and chili, in a bid to inform and influence the consumers towards them. For instance, in one of the livestream events that took place in 2020 in collaboration with Alibaba, about 1.5 tonnes of roasted Rwandan coffee beans were sold within a minute. “When we started doing live streaming, people paid a lot of attention. They actually contact us and ask how they can get our products,” the diplomat noted. The embassy will soon start to work with Douyin and TikTok, which are famous short video sharing platforms in China. These will give space to Rwandan products to be exposed and marketed on special channels dedicated to the embassy. Kimonyo says such strategies are working so much in the favour of Rwandan products, making them known and competitive on the market. “The impact is tremendous and we are excited. We need to look at how we can mobilize and bring more products to the Chinese market, as well as reducing the distortions in the middle,” he said. Asked about whether he hopes to do another e-commerce delivery in the future, he said yes, adding that more innovative strategies are expected to be coming up. “We are no longer the old fashioned diplomatic missions where you go and enjoy receptions and have wine. We are wealth creation entities. So, whether I become a sales person, I don’t care, as long as I do it in the right way,” he said. “The whole idea is how I reach the consumers so they understand my brand, my products,” he added.