This week, Ma, a Chinese business magnate who is the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, a family of Internet-based businesses, launched the African Young Entrepreneurs Fund worth $10 million. It has been further revealed that he plans to also roll out a partnership with African universities to teach internet technology, artificial intelligence and e-commerce. He announced the creation of a African Young Entrepreneurs Fund, during the Youth Connekt Africa Summit co-hosted by UNCTAD and the Government of Rwanda last week.
Ma said that he would also work with UNCTAD to help bring 200 budding African businesspeople to his homeland China to learn from Alibaba hands on. “I want them to go to China, meeting our people, seeing all the things we have been doing, all the great ideas China has,” he said. “They know what they want. And when they know what they want, we can support it,” Ma further remarked.
UNCTAD is working with Ma to explore opportunities with African businesses to participate in global trade. As well as to raise awareness of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Which was adopted by the international community in 2015. In addition, to his role as an adviser to UNCTAD. Ma also serves as a UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate.
Ma also pointed to the big implications for economies and the labour market. He continued, “I think e-commerce, internet, big data is the future. You can never stop it. You like it or don’t like it. But you will never stop it. Every time you have a technological revolution, it will kill a lot of jobs and it will create a lot of jobs. This is what history tells us.”
Ma emphasized on the importance of his plan to roll out a partnership with African universities to teach internet technology, artificial intelligence and e-commerce. He has been sharing his experience of having built his company, founded in 1999, into a global e-commerce giant valued at more than $231bn. And how he met the string of challenges that he faced along the way.
The Youth Connekt Africa Summit which held in Kigali, Rwanda brought together more than 1,500 participants from government, entrepreneurial and investor communities, multinationals, and startups shaping the African technological ecosystem. Unlocking Africa’s e-commerce is a key priority for UNCTAD, given the potential of online trade to power development.