Alibaba’s Jack Ma Sets Up $10M Fund to Invest in Young African Entrepreneurs

Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma has announced he has set up a US$10 million fund to invest in tech business owned by young african entrepreneurs. 

Ma made the announcement during the Youth Connekt Africa Summit in Rwanda co-hosted by UNCTAD and the Government of Rwanda.

“I want that fund supporting African online businesses. The money is set. This is my money, so I don’t have to get anybody’s approval,” said Mr. Ma who is also a special adviser to UNCTAD for Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business. He added that he would hire staff to run the fund before the end of the year.

At the forum, Mr. Ma said that he would also work with UNCTAD help bring 200 young african business people to his homeland China to learn how Alibaba works.

“I want them to go to China, meeting our people, seeing all the things we have been doing, all the great ideas China has. They know what they want. And when they know what they want, we can support it” he said.

In addition, Mr. Ma said that he planned to roll out a partnership with African universities to teach internet technology, artificial intelligence and e-commerce.

UNCTAD is working with Mr. Ma to explore opportunities with African businesses to participate in global trade, as well as to raise awareness of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by the international community in 2015. In addition to his role as an adviser to UNCTAD, Mr. Ma also serves as a UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate.

Mr. Ma underscored the importance of internet access in all nations, saying it was an even more important raw material for economies than coal and electricity were in the past.

“Not being connected to the internet today is worse than not having electricity 100 years ago,” he said.

He also pointed to the big implications for economies and the labour market.

“I think e-commerce, Internet, Big Data is the future. You can never stop it. You like it or don’t like it. But you will never stop it,” he said.

“Every time you have a technological revolution, it will kill a lot of jobs and it will create a lot of jobs. This is what history tells us.”