The UN agency dealing with trade and development said Monday it has teamed up in Hangzhou with the Alibaba Group in a special 11-day course to empower over five years 1,000 e-commerce entrepreneurs from developing countries.
Thirty-seven e-commerce entrepreneurs from Asia have enrolled at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Alibaba Business School's eFounders Initiative at the Alibaba campus in Hangzhou, UNCTAD said in a statement.
The 11-day course is part of a commitment by Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group and an UNCTAD special adviser.
"We want to reach out to youth and include them in the work we do for inclusive and sustainable economic growth," Arlette Verploegh, coordinator for the eFounders Initiative at UNCTAD, said.
She noted that the initiative seeks to bridge the digital divide for young entrepreneurs, helping them unlock their potential.
"It is part of a set of smart partnerships UNCTAD is creating to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)," said Verploegh.
The launch of the first program for Asian entrepreneurs comes after the success of the inaugural class for 24 African participants last November.
Following a rigorous selection process, the final candidates from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam will study e-commerce innovations from China and around the world and become eFounders Fellows.
It aims for the young entrepreneurs to become catalysts in their home countries for the digital transformation of their economies.
All the participants are founders of start-up companies in e-commerce, big data, logistics, financial technology, payment solutions and tourism.
"We are excited to extend this fellowship to entrepreneurs from Asia for the very first time as part of our commitment to empower digital champions and communities around the world," said Brian A. Wong, Vice President of Alibaba Group, who heads the Global Initiatives program.
Under the 2030 SDG agenda, the initiative is aligned with the call to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital economy, and to help bridge the digital divide faced by businesses in emerging markets.
The program 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.