The Alibaba Business School and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) have brought together 24 Africa-based entrepreneurs to participate in their inaugural eFounders Initiative – a two-week intensive program on e-commerce.
The eFounders Initiative as explained by the Alibaba Group, “is the first step to fulfill the commitment Jack Ma made as the UNCTAD Special Adviser Alibaba and UNCTAD Launch eFounders Initiative to Empower 1000 African Entrepreneurs – The Spirited Hubfor Young Entrepreneurs and Small Business in 2017, to help empower 1,000 entrepreneurs in developing countries over the next five years.”
They further state, it’s part of a set of smart partnerships UNCTAD is creating to reach the sustainable development goals. By bridging the digital divide facing young entrepreneurs in developing countries, the eFounders initiative helps make sure no one is left behind by the digital economy, as called for by the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The eFounders Initiative is also in line with Alibaba’s mission to help small businesses succeed in their home markets and beyond by leveraging the power of technology.
“Today, we have to be smart to make sure we do not miss the opportunity e-commerce represents, both as an engine of growth and as a source of inclusiveness,” says Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD. “There are sharp differences on how countries use it and benefit from it. This contrast is nowhere more evident than in Africa, where less than five percent of the population shops online.”
For the young e-commerce pioneers who travelled from seven (7) African countries to attend the program at Alibaba’s global headquarters in Hangzhou to learn from China’s experience in building an e-commerce ecosystem, the two-week intensive course included capacity-building in e-commerce, from inventory management and rural commerce to logistics and mobile payment systems, as well as how to use data to best capture consumer preferences. They also have the opportunity to experience the annual 11.11 Global Shopping Festival as well as attend a private meeting with Alibaba founder, Jack Ma.
“In the future, we will need more than the G20 and the B20 to create the kind of inclusive development the world needs”, said Jack Ma. “We need the G200 and B200,” he said, calling for active engagement with students, government officials, and entrepreneurs from smaller countries and markets. Alibaba Group has a goal of serving 2 billion consumers, creating 100 million jobs and enabling 10 million profitable SMEs. The B200 is a key piece of achieving that goal. The eFounders Initiative is the first tangible incarnation of the B200 promise.
The goal of this initiative is largely to empower African entrepreneurs as Alibaba Group believes these participating entrepreneurs will play a very important role in the future creation of the New Economy in their countries to become the Jack Mas of their countries.
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