Jack Ma pledges funds, support for IT sector

Sunday August 6 2017

A young Rwanda tech entrepreneur showcases his

A young Rwanda tech entrepreneur showcases his innovation. Mr Ma said he was inspired by many tech entrepreneurs who have great ideas but lack both financial and technological support. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

By RODRIGUES RWIRAHIRA
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Chinese billionaire, founder and chairman of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, who was in Rwanda recently, made four pledges at the just concluded ‘YouthConnekt’ summit.

Mr Ma, who is a special advisor of the United Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on matters of entrepreneurship, committed to finance big projects in the just concluded ‘YouthConnekt’ summit. It was held in Kigali, from July19- 21.

He made four commitments at the summit. Namely: About 200 African young entrepreneurs have been invited to work at Alibaba headquarters with the aim of gaining experience in fields including; e-commerce, artificial intelligence and the Internet.

The second commitment is to work with universities in Africa and governments to train on specific courses.

The third commitment is a partnership between Alibaba and Paradise Foundation of China to promote and support environmental conservation efforts in Africa especially protecting elephants and other endangered animals.

The fourth commitment is a pledge to invest in the youth.

Mr Ma’s company is expected to fly 200 African young entrepreneurs to Hangzhou in China (Alibaba’s headquarters), to study e-commerce; artificial intelligence; big data analytics and cloud computing.
The young entrepreneurs will then come back and contribute to the development of their countries

The second commitment by the Alibaba Group is a cash injection of $10 million for the Africa Young Entrepreneur Fund.
Mr Ma said he was inspired by many tech entrepreneurs who have great ideas but lack both financial and technological support.
The World Economic Forum Africa Chapter reports that sub-Saharan Africa still has the world’s highest percentage — 29 per cent — of young people involved in businesses that are new or nascent.
The report also says that lack of access to finance and markets, low levels of education, poor business skills and lack of suitable mentors are among the major obstacles that entrepreneurs face.

Mr Ma said some of these barriers can be removed by promoting skills development among the youth with African universities being at the core of bringing about the changes.

He said the Jack Ma Foundation would partner with several institutions to establish centres of excellence and ICT hubs where young entrepreneurs can develop their ideas.