Alibaba Founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma has announced the creation of a $10 million African Young Entrepreneurs Fund.
“The money is set. This is my money, so I don’t have to get anybody’s approval,” Ma said during the Youth Connekt Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Fund will support online businesses on the continent.
The Chinese billionaire businessman was on a two-day trip to Africa, visiting Kenya and Rwanda in his capacity as Special Adviser for Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
He shared his experience from founding Alibaba in 1999 and growing it into a global e-commerce giant valued at more than $231 billion and the challenges that he faced along the way.
Ma who also serves as a UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate is working with UNCTAD to explore opportunities with African businesses to participate in global trade and to raise awareness of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Youth Connekt Summit co-hosted by UNCTAD and the Government of Rwanda brought together over 1,500 participants from government, entrepreneurial and investor communities, multinationals, and startups shaping the African technological ecosystem. It is in line with UNCTAD’s priority of unlocking the continent’s e-commerce given the potential of online trade to power development.
Ma also announced that he would collaborate with UNCTAD to take 200 budding African entrepreneurs to China to get a hands-on learning experience from his online retail giant Alibaba.
He added, “They know what they want. And when they know what they want, we can support it”.
Underscoring the importance of internet access across the world, the business magnate said he planned to roll out a partnership with African universities to teach internet technology, artificial intelligence, and e-commerce.
He also pointed to its big implications for economies and the labour market saying, “I think e-commerce, the Internet, Big Data is the future. You can never stop it. You like it or don’t like it. But you will never stop it.”
Ma had earlier announced a $1.65 million 10-year wildlife conservation program in Africa by China-based non-profit organization, the Paradise International Foundation co-financed by Alibaba’s philanthropic arm the Alibaba Foundation.