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Alibaba launches 2020 Spring Thunder Initiative to give Chinese SMEs a leg up during Covid-19

Chairman and chief executive Daniel Zhang said the initiative includes, but is not limited to helping export-focused SMEs.

Alibaba is launching the '2020 Spring Thunder Initiative' to help small and medium enterprises in China succeed during the trying circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19).

In a staff memo announcing the launch, chairman and chief executive Daniel Zhang said the initiative includes, but is not limited to helping export-focused SMEs expand into new markets through AliExpress, Lazada and Tmall World.

He said Alibaba is also helping a subset of these SMEs transform and develop their business in the Chinese market through measures such as resource support, fee reductions and fast track processing.

To do this, Alibaba is activating manufacturing belts, incubating a group of “Super Producer IP” designations, and fostering 10 digitized manufacturing clusters with production output valued at tens of billions in RMB.

It hopes these measures will help 1,000 factories realize direct-to-consumer sales of over RMB 100 million within three years and help the agricultural sector prosper through digitization and creating 1,000 Alibaba digitized agricultural centers across China.

Alibaba will also help alleviate financing challenges for more SMEs by extending “immediate settlement” services until June 30. Ant Financial’s online merchant bank will work with hundreds of traditional banks to provide zero-contact loans to tens of millions of small and micro-businesses.

“We are living through extraordinary times and Covid-19 is a battle being fought on a global scale. Our society, our economy and our everyday lives have been devastated by the pandemic; it has brought about monumental change. We, together with the rest of the world, are facing a future full of uncertainty, and it is more important than ever that we take immediate action,” said Zhang.

“The pandemic has exacted tremendous pain to our world, but it cannot stop hope from being born. In the global and China fight against the pandemic, Alibaba has proven to be a bulwark in the battle through our concrete actions. This pandemic will ultimately end, and we will eventually see the beginnings of new life. We must band together with the SMEs that need the most help, and convert Alibaba’s resources into strength for the SMEs. We must turn the “danger” brought about by the pandemic into “opportunity” for SMEs to prepare for the future through digital transformation. Now is the time for Alibaba to give back to our community and to give back to our SMEs.”

During the 2008 financial crisis, Alibaba rolled out three major relief initiatives for SMEs to survive what was described as an “economic winter” for them. It claims the three initiatives – “Dark Cloud,” “Wild Winds” and “Spring Thunder” – collectively helped 40 million SMEs fully absorbed the confidence and conviction of its e-commerce platform to bring new life to their businesses.

Aside from Alibaba, other major brands and technology firms like BMW and JD.com in China are starting to launch major efforts to re-boost the economy and help brands get in front of consumers once again.

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