• Chinese internet billionaire and executive chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma looks on as he attends a roundtable with Kenyan business leaders in Nairobi, Kenya, 20 July 2017. /EPA

Alibaba’s Ma to support education, e-commerce, conservation in Africa

Corporate July 25, 2017 17:19

By The Nation

15,543 Viewed

Jack Ma aims to support education, e-commerce and conservation in Africa, an announcement made at the recent “YouthConnekt Africa Summit” in Rwanda said.

Alibaba Group executive chairman Ma made his first ever trip to Africa last week, visiting Kenya and Rwanda in his role as special adviser for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to promote entrepreneurship as a path to economic growth.

Ma, who serves as UNCTAD’s Special Adviser for Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business, landed in Nairobi before continuing on to the Rwandan capital of Kigali. 

He met with members of the public and private sectors to explore ways to bring young business owners in Africa into the larger global economy.

“When you invest in young people, you invest in the future,” he said in a statement. “I am excited by the work we are doing at UNCTAD to unleash the entrepreneurial potential of Africa’s youth.”

During his stop at the “YouthConnekt Africa Summit” in Rwanda, where Ma also met with President Paul Kagame, the Alibaba executive chairman made a number of announcements aimed at supporting education, e-commerce and conservation in the African country.

Firstly, Ma said he would support domestic and cross-border e-commerce in Africa as a means of economic development. 

He pledged to create a training programme with UNCTAD, inviting 200 young African entrepreneurs to Alibaba’s campus in the Chinese city of Hanghzou to study e-commerce so they can return to Africa to develop e-businesses and teach those skills to other young, aspiring business owners there.

Second, Ma announced his intention to work with African universities and governments to create training programmes in centered on e-commerce, artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing – which Alibaba believes are critical skills for doing business.

Third, Ma added to a previous announcement aimed at promoting conservation in Africa by saying he would establish a conservation award for rangers working in African parks. 

The award, given as a partnership between the Paradise Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation, will be used to recognise 50 wildlife rangers who have been safeguarding the continent’s natural heritage for African citizens.

Finally, Ma announced that he personally would donate US$10 million (Bt335 million) from the Jack Ma Foundation to an African young entrepreneurs development fund “to help them realise their dreams and ideas”. 

The idea for the $10-million fund came to him after seeing the energy and excitement around entrepreneurship during his trip, he explained, adding, “I want to show my confidence in Africa.”

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi named Ma a special adviser to the UN agency last September.