Alibaba and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) have brought together 24 Africa-based entrepreneurs to participate in the inaugural eFounders Initiative, which was formed to help empower 1,000 entrepreneurs in developing countries over the next five years.
The eFounders Initiative is in line with Alibaba’s mission to help small businesses succeed in their home markets and beyond by leveraging the power of technology. It also looks to bridge the digital divide facing young entrepreneurs in developing countries to ensure that no one is left behind by the digital economy, in accordance with UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The two dozen participants were selected from more than 700 applicants via a rigorous application process and travelled from seven African countries to attend the programme at Alibaba’s global headquarters in Hangzhou and learn from China’s experience in building an e-commerce ecosystem.
All the participants are current pioneers in their respective fields, varying from mobile payment, big data, retail, logistics, and others. The two-week intensive course also includes 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.
The participants have also pledged to be agents of change in their home countries and after graduating, each of them will commit to applying the programme’s lessons to their own business objectives and transfer their know-how to others to improve the e-commerce infrastructure of their country.
The entrepreneurs even had the opportunity to experience this year’s annual 11.11 Singles Day global shopping festival and attend a private meeting with Alibaba founder Jack Ma.