When Jack Ma visited Africa in 2017, he saw a continent facing many of the same challenges that Alibaba had managed to overcome in the last 15 years in China. eCommerce operations flanked by payments, logistics, tourism and big data platforms are starting to take shape and create value in unique markets across Africa and the rest of the developing world.
As a Special Advisor to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Jack recognized that by applying ideas from China’s most innovative businesses to their own ventures, participants will have the opportunity to innovate in their home countries. With this opportunity in mind, the eFounders Fellowship was created to find and empower 1000 platform builders who can leverage Alibaba’s experience in China.
The eFounders Fellowship is a two-week course for entrepreneurs in developing countries who are operating open, platform-based businesses in the ecommerce, logistics, big data, and tourism spaces. The program will provide first-hand exposure to and learning about ecommerce innovations from China and around the world that enabled growth and a more inclusive development model for all.
With a focus on highlighting breakthrough innovations that have transformed society in China, the program will inspire each participant to think of creative frameworks based on prior expertise and new learnings that can be applied to their own home markets.
Participating entrepreneurs will be given the tools to improve their own ventures, but as ‘New Economy’ pioneers they will be expected to serve as network builders and champions of new ways to approach commerce in their own markets. UNCTAD and Alibaba believe these entrepreneurs can spread powerful new ideas around the world by creating impactful communities and empowering their peers.
The course targets young entrepreneurs as part of an initiative on the digital economy for sustainable development that is jointly organized by the Alibaba Business School and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
✓ Identify and select high-potential entrepreneurs who can become industry champions and builders of a new e-commerce ecosystem in their country;
✓ Empower the participants to not only apply the gained knowledge in their home countries but also mobilize and inspire others to embrace the new economy paradigm;
✓ Create a local community of e-commerce champions who can support one another and continue to nurture the development of their ecosystems to ensure a measurable and sustainable impact within their markets.
Candidates must be:
• Under the age of 35;
• Entrepreneurs in the digital and technology space operating open platforms related to eCommerce, Logistics, Fintech, Big Data or Tourism;
• Authentic, open-minded and altruistic leaders of the new economy;
• At an inflection point in their careers;
• Looking to move from success to significance with integrity, vision and drive;
• Founders or co-founders of an officially registered digital technology venture in a country in Africa;
• Female entrepreneurs are strongly encouraged to apply.
The course will consist of a structured series of classroom workshops and lectures, site visits and a business hackathonand will primarily be held at Alibaba Group Headquarters in Hangzhou with site visits in other cities in China.
Upon completion of the course, participants are expected to make a commitment to share knowledge gained with their communities.
While the course tuition, accommodation and meals will be covered for selected candidates, participants will be expected to apply and pay for their visa application and travel to and from Hangzhou, China. A letter of support for a visa request will be provided by UNCTAD to facilitate the visa application process. Once in China, the Alibaba Group will arrange lodging and transportation during the course.
Photo: Alibaba Group and UNCTAD Launch eFounders Initiative (credit: Alibaba Group)