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Alibaba and UNCTAD come together on initiative to help entrepreneurs from developing countries in Asia


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

March 27, 2018 | 3 min read

Alibaba and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has launched the second round of its eFounders Initiative, this time helping entrepreneurs from developing countries in Asia.

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Alibaba and the UN partner on e-commerce training for entrepreneurs

At a ceremony in Hangzhou in China, 37 entrepreneurs from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam were inducted into the 11 day education event, that sees them learn from Alibaba’s ecommerce technology and expertise.

Arlette Verploegh, coordinator for the eFounders Initiative at UNCTAD, said the idea behind the initiative is to bridge the digital divide.

“We want to reach out to youth and include them in the work we do for inclusive and sustainable economic growth. The initiative is about bridging the digital divide for young entrepreneurs and unlock their potential. It is part of a set of smart partnerships UNCTAD is creating to reach the sustainable development goals,” she said.

The programme is linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, while also falling under Alibaba’s agenda to help small businesses.

The focus on entrepreneurs and small businesses runs deep into Alibaba’s purpose and advertising. Its focus for its sponsorship of the Olympics has thus far been on the message of ‘To the Greatness of Small’, celebrating the power that can come from small and unexpected places.

Brian A. Wong, vice president of Alibaba Group, who heads the Global Initiatives program, said: “Our goal is to inspire entrepreneurs to serve as pioneers for building a more inclusive development model that is not just good for their business, but also good for society by creating platforms that all can participate in and benefit from.”

The entrepreneurs all work for businesses that sit within the realms of e-commerce, big data, logistics, fintech, payment and tourism. It follows on from a similar initiative in Africa last year.

Using the Alibaba Business School and its technology, the attendees graduate as Fellows, who have a commitment to become ambassadors of all that they have learnt on returning home, educating their wider networks.

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