Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, launched the Netpreneur Prize foundation on Wednesday in South Africa, which has been designed to support and fund African entrepreneurs.
The initiative will attempt to build a community of 100 young African entrepreneurs by 2030 through grants totalling US$10m, reports Chinese news portal China News.
Starting in 2019, the Jack Ma Foundation will host an annual pitch competition, with ten finalists selected from across the continent to showcase their talent and business ideas in order to compete for US$1m in prize money.
They will receive grant funding as well as relevant training, mentor and platform resources and follow-up project support, all of which will be provided by the Alibaba Group.
The programme intends to focus on small business in Africa, grassroots innovation and female entrepreneurs.
While delivering a keynote at the “Netpreneurs: Rise of Africa’s Digital Lions” conference in Johannesburg, Ma stated that Africa is a continent full of opportunities. “Africa is like China 19 years ago, as it has no good infrastructure. But, if it seizes the chance of digitalisation, Africa will become the place that can benefit most from the trend,” he said.
This is the second initiative launched by Jack Ma to support African entrepreneurs. Last year, Alibaba Business School and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development announced the eFounders Fellowship Initiative, a programme that will train 1,000 entrepreneurs from developing countries, including 200 from Africa, to help them grasp the opportunities presented by inclusive e-commerce ecosystems. - gbtimes