eFounders Initiative: Shaping Champions for the New Economy


What is the eFounders Initiative?

The eFounders Initiative aims to help bridge the digital divide faced by young entrepreneurs in developing countries and allow them to grasp the opportunities of e-commerce ecosystems.

The Initiative is part of a set of smart partnerships UNCTAD creates to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNCTAD, jointly with Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group and Special Adviser of UNCTAD for Young Entrepreneurs and Small Business, set up this capacity building programme to empower 1'000 e-commerce entrepreneurs from developing countries over a period of five years to become catalysts in their home countries for the digital transformation of their economies.

The next course will focus on African entrepreneurs from Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda and will take place at the campus of the Alibaba Business School in Hangzhou, China from 19 to 29 June 2018.

What are the conditions to apply for the programme?

Application Deadline: 4 May 2018

Programme Schedule: 19 to 29 June 2018

Location: Alibaba Xixi Campus - Hangzhou, China

Class Size: There will be 40 places available

eFounders Initiative  

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 two-week course will comprise of a structured series of classroom workshops and lectures, site visits and a business hackathon, and will primarily be held at the campus of the Alibaba Business School in Hangzhou with site visits and city tours 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 as well as local transportation during the course will be covered for the selected candidates, participants will be expected to apply and pay for their visa application as well as meet their travel expenses to and from Hangzhou, China. A letter of support for a visa request will be provided to facilitate the visa application process.

All enquiries regarding the eFounders Initiative Programme and the participation in the mentorship course can be sent to the email address unctadyouth@unctad.org.


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