By Kylie Kiunguyu
Alibaba founder Jack Ma is in South Africa to launch a new initiative for African entrepreneurs. Called the ‘Netpreneur Prize’, the aim is to build a community of 100 young African entrepreneurs by 2030 who will receive grants totaling US$10 million
Jack Ma is a Chinese business magnate, investor and philanthropist, as well as co-founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, a multinational technology conglomerate. With this kind of portfolio he enjoys the status of iconic business figure, listed as being among the world’s most powerful and richest people by Forbes. Alibaba is one of the top ten most valuable companies in the world, with a market value of US$542 billion.
Ma, who is an adviser to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on youth entrepreneurship and small business, will address the conference themed “Netpreneurs: The Rise of Africa’s Digital Lions” taking place at Wits. The conference will analyse the challenges and opportunities facing a new digital Africa and the role that the public sector, investors, entrepreneurs and educational organisations must play in this transformation.
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The event will also include a Keynote speech on Africa’s digital transformation by Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD and talks by three entrepreneurs who were part of the Alibaba “eFounder’s programme” earlier this year on their digital entrepreneurship in Africa.
This is not his first African youth project. Last year Ma launched four groundbreaking projects at the Youth Connekt summit in Kigali, Rwanda. In the first project, Ma invited 200 African young entrepreneurs to work at Alibaba headquarters with the aim of gaining experience in various fields, including e-commerce, artificial intelligence and the Internet. In the second project, the Chinese billionaire said Alibaba will work with universities in Africa and governments to teach specific courses, including the Internet, artificial intelligence and e-commerce.