Jack Ma, Alibaba Group Executive Chairman made the first ever trip to Africa this week, visiting Kenya and Rwanda in his role as special adviser for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to promote entrepreneurship as a path to economic growth.
Ma, who serves as UNCTAD’s Special Adviser for Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business, landed in Nairobi on Thursday and will continue on to the Rwandan capital of Kigali on Friday. He will meet with members of the public and private sectors to explore ways to bring young business owners in Africa into the larger global economy.
‘When you invest in young people, you invest in the future,’ Ma said in a statement. ‘I am excited by the work we are doing at UNCTAD to unleash the entrepreneurial potential of Africa’s youth.’
Accompanied by UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi, Ma on Thursday is slated to meet Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta before attending three events, including one at the University of Nairobi, that focus on the theme of youth entrepreneurship and its effect on economic development. The next day, in Kigali, Ma will join a business roundtable hosted by the Rwanda Development Board in addition to meeting Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
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Ma’s visit coincides with the Youth Connekt Africa Summit, a three-day event put on by UNCTAD and the Rwandan government. Both Ma and Kituyi will speak at the summit, which aims to support job creation for African youth, especially technology and entrepreneurship.
UNCTAD sees entrepreneurship as a way for people to earn a living in still-developing countries where formal jobs are few and far between. At the same time, initiatives that aim to help young people are critical in accomplishing the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals given their widespread unemployment and low levels of income. Kituyi and Ma are working to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to create a better future for themselves.
‘Together we will be able to reach out to communities that feel left behind in today’s global economy with a message of hope and self-empowerment,’ Kituyi said in the statement.
This is the second trip this year Ma has taken in his role as special adviser to UNCTAD. In April, he attended UNCTAD’s E-Commerce Week forum to discuss ways to make cross-border e-commerce more inclusive and accessible for countries that lack the technology, infrastructure, and know-how to reap its benefits.
Kituyi named Ma a special adviser to UNCTAD last September.
Courtesy of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd