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The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Alibaba Business School have jointly launched the eFounders Initiative. This program sought to identify the best 24 e-commerce startups from Africa and take them through a two-week long acceleration and mentorship program that will empower them to become the Jack Mas of Africa.

The program is said to have received over 700 applications from various e-commerce startups spread out the continent of Africa. Only the top 24 have been enrolled, and are now set to travel to Hangzhou, China where they will get hands-on training and mentorships from China’s most prominent e-commerce personality, Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba.

During his trip to Kenya and public lecture at the University of Nairobi, Jack Ma made a promise to empower 1,000 entrepreneurs from the developing countries over the course of next five years. Ma said he would ensure that no one is left behind in this digital economy transformation.

Alibaba Group Jack Ma 2

Alibaba Group and UNCTAD Launch eFounders Initiative (PRNewsfoto/Alibaba Group)

After the training and graduation in Hangzhou, the 24 startups are then expected to return to their home countries where they will put what they have learned into practice. They are also supposed to impart the knowledge they gained during their stay in Hangzhou into other upcoming entrepreneurs in their local communities.

The two-week training in Hangzhou will entail among other things, how to set viable business objectives, capacity-building, use of big data to capture consumers’ preferences.

As an e-commerce company, the Alibaba Group has set out a goal for itself of serving 20 million consumers, creating 100 million jobs, and enabling 10 million SMEs in the industry.

Brian A. Wong, the VP of Alibaba Group heading the Global Initiatives Program, said: “The goal of the initiative is to empower African entrepreneurs. We believe these participating entrepreneurs will play a very important role in the future creation of the New Economy in their country. We want them to become the Jack Mas of their countries.”

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