unctad.org | UNCTAD and Alibaba Business School Enroll Second Class of Asian Entrepreneurs under the eFounders Fellowship
UNCTAD and Alibaba Business School Enroll Second Class of Asian Entrepreneurs under the eFounders Fellowship
08 November 2018
Fourth cohort of 40 selected, comprising participants from 11 Asian countries - a record for the program.

Class Four is now in session for the second group of Asian entrepreneurs participating in the eFounders Fellowship, a program jointly administered by UNCTAD and Alibaba Business School. 40 participants from a record 11 countries across South and Southeast Asia were selected from over 300 applicants to take part in an intensive 14-day course, providing first-hand exposure to e-commerce best practices and innovations from China and around the world.

Within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the initiative was first developed to help ensure no one is left behind in the digital economy by bridging the digital divide faced by businesses in emerging markets. The program is part of the commitment by Jack Ma, Alibaba Group’s founder and Executive Chairman and UNCTAD Special Adviser, to empower 1,000 budding entrepreneurs from developing countries within five years.

For the first time, entrepreneurs from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Singapore join peers from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Collectively, the participants represent various industries including e-commerce, logistics, fintech, tourism and big data. All participants are founders of promising start-ups and will graduate as eFounders Fellows, an exclusive community of like-minded young entrepreneurs who will catalyze digital transformation in their home countries.

“This initiative, done together with Alibaba Business School, can be considered as a successful partnership model covering many elements of the global goals,” says Arlette Verploegh, Coordinator of the eFounders Fellowship at UNCTAD. “We notice that young entrepreneurs, and in particular those participating in this initiative, demonstrate a strong commitment to contribute to a better world. Enhancing the digital economy, developing rural areas and including vulnerable groups in the workforce through training and recruitment in developing countries are among some of the major takeaways since the eFounders Fellowship was launched one year ago.”

The eFounders Fellowship has already enrolled three classes prior to the latest cohort, starting with a pilot project with 24 African entrepreneurs and followed by a class of 37 entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia and South Asia. The third class returned to the African continent, with 29 Africa-based business owners participating in the program.

“We are delighted to be able to continue advancing our vision to empower digital champions and communities around the world and include even more talents from new Asian markets. The eFounders Fellowship is growing from strength-to-strength with each cohort, and we already are starting to see the positive impact and outcomes this promising community is creating in their home markets,” said Brian A. Wong, Vice President of Alibaba Group, who heads the Global Initiatives program.

“We aim to inspire entrepreneurs from these regions to serve as evangelists in building a more inclusive digital development model that is good for their business and at the same time spread the digital economy paradigm in these countries and benefit the society at large,” he added.

Advisors from five Asian countries will be inducted into a network overseeing and supporting the continual development of the latest batch of budding Asian entrepreneurs after graduation. These advisors will also be a part of the course in order to better understand the program and entrepreneurs under their charge.

The eFounders Fellowship reflects Alibaba’s mission to help small businesses succeed beyond their home markets, and was first announced in 2017 by Jack Ma in his capacity as the UNCTAD Special Adviser for young entrepreneurs and small business when he, together with Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, visited Africa.

For more information on the eFounders Fellowship, please visit: 

https://agi.alibaba.com/efounders-fellowship and eFounders Fellowship Programme

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The eFounders Fellowship is part of a set of smart partnerships UNCTAD is creating to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

About Alibaba Group

Alibaba Group’s mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere and the company aims to achieve sustainable growth for 102 years.

Media Contact

Rico Ngai
Alibaba Group
+852 9725 9600



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