(Yicai Global) March 26 -- Entrepreneurs from across Asia today started an 11-day course on e-commerce and its influence on Chinese society at Alibaba Business School in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang province.
Co-sponsored by internet giant Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the eFounders Initiative is part of a commitment by Alibaba founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma, who is also an UNCTAD Special Advisor, to empower 1,000 entrepreneurs from developing countries over five years.
A total of 37 entrepreneurs from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam enrolled in the program after a rigorous selection process. They are each founders of startups in the areas of e-commerce, Big Data, payment systems, logistics, fintech and tourism. These young business leaders will go on to spur the digital transformation of their home countries, said a joint statement from Alibaba and UNCTAD.
"We are excited to extend this fellowship to entrepreneurs from Asia for the very first time as part of our commitment to empower digital champions and communities around the world," said Brian A. Wong, vice president of Alibaba Group, who heads the Hangzhou-based company's Global Initiatives program.
The selected individuals will receive first-hand exposure to e-commerce innovations and how such technologies have impacted society in China and will take part in lectures and discussions with local practitioners and executives to draw lessons that can be applied to their own markets. They will also work on case studies from Alibaba Group and other successful companies in the e-commerce value chain, with sessions on digital finance, smart logistics and rural e-commerce development, among other topics.
Pioneers and Fellows
"Our goal is to inspire entrepreneurs to serve as pioneers for building a more inclusive development model that is not just good for their business, but also good for society by creating platforms that all can participate in and benefit from," Wong added.
After graduating, participants become Fellows of the eFounders Initiative and make formal commitments about how they will apply what they learned from this program. The first fellows, some 24 business people from Africa, completed the two-week program last November.
"We want to reach out to youth and include them in the work we do for inclusive and sustainable economic growth," said Arlette Verploegh, UNCTAD's coordinator for the eFounders Initiative. "The initiative is about bridging the digital divide for young entrepreneurs and unlock their potential. It is part of a set of smart partnerships UNCTAD is creating to reach the sustainable development goals."
As part of the wider eFounders Initiative community of promising young entrepreneurs around the world, UNCTAD and Alibaba Group will also continue to advise on and provide support for the creation of e-commerce ecosystems jointly with other stakeholders, their joint statement added.