Last year, Jack Ma visited Africa for the very first time. He went ahead and committed to empowering "1,000 entrepreneurs from developing countries in five years”. 200 of those would come from Africa.
Jack Ma's goal was to be achieved through the Alibaba e- Founders Initiative that is done in conjunction with UNTCAD. So far, three cohorts have run with around 80 entrepreneurs from Africa. The third took place in June with 29 startups from Africa spending two weeks course in Hangzhou.
Yet, Rwanda has been able to carve out a fellowship that only focuses on their entrepreneurs. The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Alibaba Group are organizing a special e-Founders Fellowship Program for Rwandan entrepreneurs next year.
RDB, the country's development agency, says that the aim is so that entrepreneurs "get first-hand exposure to e-commerce and digital innovations".
Like the previous e-Founders fellowships, the training will take place in China – Hangzhou. At Alibaba Business School. The dates for the first batch are 16th to 27th February 2019.
This is part of the agreements that Rwanda and Alibaba Group signed on 31st October.
Rwanda's President, Paul Kagame, met with Jack Ma - Alibaba's Chairman - in October. The two went ahead and launched the first Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) in Africa in Kigali. The platform is said to have opened "doors for small businesses in Africa to take part in cross-border electronic trade". It was also a result of a partnership between the Government of Rwanda and Alibaba Group.
Through such initiatives, the East African country hopes to promote a digital economy. As well as "offer [Rwandan] entrepreneurs an opportunity to connect with like-minded, leading entrepreneurs in Alibaba and China".