Alibaba invests in African entrepreneurs

Date : 04 July 2018

Following Alibaba's entry into Africa in late 2017 the business continues to invest in the market. We look at how Alibaba Business School and UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) have developed a programme to support young entrepeneurs in Africa.

Teaching about the impact of ecommerce

Alibaba recently used its Hangzhou headquarters to host the eFounders Fellowship Programme. The Alibaba Business School and UNCTAD created this programme to promote global youth entrepreneurship. 29 African-based business took part. The participants were all entrepreneurs from different industries, including logistics and fintech.

The aim is to teach participants about the transformative impact e-commerce has had on China in the past decade. Alongside this, how these learnings can be used in Africa. During the course participants have lectures from Alibaba and local entrepreneurs. The programme has a strong focus on understanding the consumer.

Creating a long-lasting digital marketplace in Africa

The programme combines Alibaba's goals of making it easy to do business everywhere, and the UN Sustainable Development Goal of no one being left behind in the digital economy. Jack Ma has personally committed to foster entrepreneurship in youth across the world. He aims to have 1,000 entrepreneurs from developing countries (200 from Africa) over the next five years go through the programme. 

So far 52 Africans have completed the programme. He sees these people as the future of African ecommerce. He is looking for them to use their collective power to create a strong and long-lasting digital marketplace in Africa.

Growing ecommerce

Ecommerce is growing quickly in Africa and large companies such as Amazon and Alibaba are looking to take advantage of this. However, there are also local players such as Jumia continuously expanding, creating strong competition for the international retailers.

So far Alibaba has launched Alipay in South Africa and expanded its supplier base to include Nigeria. Jack Ma has also said he sees potential in Kenya due to its growing Chinese population. This may be a market we see Alibaba expanding into in the future.

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