30 Rwanda-based entrepreneurs and founders harness digital technology
Written by: George Kalisa
Monday, March 11th, 2019, 4:22
A total of 30 Rwanda-based entrepreneurs and founders have completed the first Alibaba Netpreneur Training Programme held at Alibaba Group’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China. The Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program was launched by Alibaba Business School to help entrepreneurs transform their businesses for the digital era and overcome country-specific challenges.
In partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), this inaugural Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program is customized to help solve for problems and issues that entrepreneurs face within their local ecosystem. The program helps both digital entrepreneurs and leaders of traditional businesses, spanning from tea growers and shoe manufacturing to fintech and logistics, to seize the opportunities offered by the digital economy. The training program aims to establish digital success cases that can serve as role models for other entrepreneurs and business owners across the country, and even the entire continent.
The Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program follows the launch of the first African eWTP (electronic world trade platform) hub in Rwanda witnessed by the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma last October. Under the eWTP agreement, the Government of Rwanda and Alibaba committed to work together to strengthen the country's economic development by promoting policy innovation and providing capacity building to empower the growth of Rwanda's digital economy.
“We are thrilled to be launching a program that will impact businesses that can benefit most from the adoption of digital technology. We believe by sharing our lessons and experiences with local entrepreneurs, we can enable multiple segments of the local value chain and strengthen Rwanda’s overall capabilities to utilize ecommerce for local and international trade” said Brian Wong, Vice President, Alibaba Group who heads the Global Initiatives program. “Our hope is that programs like the Alibaba Netpreneur Training program will help to build a digital economy that allows everyone to participate fully and benefit equally."
"By offering a curriculum specifically designed for Rwanda, we can provide targeted training that zeroes in on the unique needs of the local economy," said Wong. "This way, participants can easily put into practice the skills and knowledge they learned from this program and become role models for other entrepreneurs back home.”
During the ten-day program in Hangzhou, participants met with business leaders from Alibaba Group as well as merchants on Alibaba’s platforms to learn about their own experience building up the ecommerce ecosystem in China. The program included numerous site visits to see first-hand how the internet has completely transformed daily life in China. The program aims to inspire and support Rwandan entrepreneurs to return home to build companies that can serve as the foundation for a digital economy.
The RDB Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi, said, “RDB is pleased to partner with Alibaba Business Schools in transferring digital economy skills to Rwandan firms. We are committed to leveraging the digital economy to support our exporters, local producers and artisans. We have already seen tremendous attention from Chinese consumers on Alibaba’s platforms in high-quality Rwandan products such as our top-tier single estate coffee, and we are confident that with the hands-on knowledge these entrepreneurs have acquired through the Netpreneur program, we will have more Made-in-Rwanda products excelling in both the local and export markets.”
The Rwandan Ambassador to China, Lt. Gen Charles Kayonga, noted, “We are happy with the progress of implementation of the eWTP for Rwanda. The Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program has been a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn and be inspired to build companies in Rwanda that can serve as the foundation for a digital economy. As a regional pioneer with a vision to become a digital hub, Rwanda needs highly skilled individuals who can steer its knowledge-based economic growth strategy. The training momentum meets the expectations of our leaders who would like to see fast implementation and sustainable results in e-commerce developments."
This week's Alibaba Netpreneur training is the latest example of Alibaba's ongoing commitment to supporting Rwanda's digital economy:
In January, Alibaba offered a four-day capacity-building New Economy Workshop for 12 Rwandan government officials and policy makers at Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou.
In October 2018, the first African eWTP (electronic world trade platform) hub was launched in Rwanda. Through this partnership, Rwanda and Alibaba are working together to enable cross-border trade of Rwandan products to Chinese consumers and facilitate China outbound tourism to Rwanda.
- In August 2018, 50 lecturers from Rwanda's top universities attended the first Global E-commerce Talent (GET) Program organized with the Ministry of Education's Higher Education Council and the Rwandan Development Board. GET aims to deepen the understanding among Rwandan university teachers of the e-commerce industry, so they can train future entrepreneurs.
- In partnership with UNCTAD, Alibaba Business School is training 1,000 entrepreneurs from emerging markets over five years with the eFounders Fellowship program. Two hundred of those entrepreneurs will come from Africa. Five Rwandan entrepreneurs have already graduated from the program.
Two African eFounders Fellowship regional classes will be held in May and in August, with the aim of training around 120 African entrepreneurs in 2019. Applications for the May eFounders Fellowship for Africa is now open to founders/co-founders of digital ventures from Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, Rwanda, or Uganda. The application period will close on March 17th, 2019. Please click here for more details.
For photos, videos, and additional information about Alibaba's ongoing initiatives across Africa, visit our corporate news site, Alizila.
Alibaba Business School
Alibaba Business School is a university established by the Alibaba Group and Hangzhou Normal University of China in October 2008. It is currently focused on implementing Alibaba Group’s e-commerce training system, which has in the past decade nurtured millions of e-commerce practitioners and entrepreneurs, in China and overseas.