A total of 29 young African entrepreneurs across 11 countries gathered for the third eFounders Fellowship cohort. The two weeks’ program took place at the Alibaba campus in Hangzhou in China. The event was organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Alibaba Business School. Jack Ma is the Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group and UNCTAD’s Special Adviser for SMEs and young entrepreneurs. Jack Ma promised to use five years to empower 1,000 young entrepreneurs from developing countries, and the eFounders Fellowship is part of his promise.
Out of 1,000 young entrepreneurs, 200 of them will come from African countries. This shows Ma’s commitment to supporting the African entrepreneurs and assisting them to be successful in the digital world. They all work under the spirit of Sustainable Development Goals. This includes ensuring that everyone is part of the digital economy. Jack Ma together with UNCTAD’s Secretary General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi spent time with the attendants in Hangzhou. According to Ma, he will work with UNCTAD to empower young African entrepreneurs to help individuals in their countries in building inclusive business models for the digital world.
Dr. Kituyi said that Alibaba and UNCTAD are using the third cohort help the new generations of entrepreneurs to maximize on the opportunities brought by the revolution of e-commerce. Selection for those who attended the program took place through the process of application. The attendants are all founders/co-founders of platform-based ventures in African tourism, big data, fintech, logistics or e-commerce sectors. The program gave a chance to the attendants to experience first-hand transformative contribution that technology and e-commerce have had on China. Alibaba went through many challenges and inadequate infrastructure when it was founded in 1999. These are the same challenges that African entrepreneurs are going through currently. This places Alibaba in the right position to share the lessons learned from its journey with African entrepreneurs aiming at building technology companies in the continent.
The shortlisted entrepreneurs had time with local practitioners and executives of Alibaba. This gave them a chance to learn from their experience in innovation, cross-border trade, and marketing, cloud computing, logistics, payments and e-commerce allowing them to gain lessons that they can apply in their markets. The course comprised of New Retail and it involved visiting the smart warehouse in Cainiao, service stations in Rural Taobao and Hema Supermarket. Furthermore, participants visited Alibaba’s ecosystem partners. They had an experience of the cashless economy in Hangzhou. Various topics like gender, global trends of e-commerce were discussed during the interactive sessions.
According to the Global Initiatives’ vice president Brian Wong, the course aims at empowering young entrepreneurs to become digital role models in their homeland. He added that the initiatives aim is to inspire the young entrepreneurs by sharing their own stories and by showing them a real impact that can be brought by inclusive business models into the daily lives of people. Alibaba hosted the inaugural class of African entrepreneurs in November 2017 before hosting the inaugural class of the Asian entrepreneurs in March 2018. Graduates have used the program to make significant steps. They have since become main players of digital transformative in their own countries. This has helped them to raise investment rounds and also come up with their programs. Alibaba and UNCTAD continue to offer formal support to participants after their graduation.
Andreas Koumato, one of the program participants, said that the program had changed his way of thinking. The 26 years of age added that initially most of the entrepreneurs were focused on pleasing the investors. However, now he sees the importance of having his customers at the top of his agenda followed by employees and investors comes last. Koumato is the founder of Chad based e-commerce platform Mossosouk.
Bellow is the list of the attendants of the third eFounders program and their respective countries.
Caroline Wanjiku the founder of Daproim Africa. Daproim Africa is a social business that equips companies, governments and research firms with data management services. Moreover, the platform offers job opportunities and data management training to African university graduates to help them in developing their relevant set of skills.
Nancy Amunga the founder of Dana Communications Company. The company is a logistic platform that offers courier services for African ecommerce platforms.
Muhirwa Clement a co-founder of Uplus Mutual Partners. The company is a fintech firm that majors in peer-peer mobile payments.
Leah Uwihoreye the founder of Golden Thoughts. Golden Thoughts is an e-commerce platform for local manufacturers’ especially female artisans to sell their goods.
Roy Borole the founder of Thanga. Thanga is an artificial intelligence studio that develops AI resources to help brand specific consumers. It does that by helping consumers tell more attracting stories for the sake of using them on social media.
Arnaud Blanchet the founder of Shopit. Shopit is an e-commerce platform that helps moms and owners of pop stores in South African rural areas and townships to compare whole sale prices and buy at the best price.
Another entrepreneur from SA was Basson Engelbrecht from Hoorah Online Shops.
Chijioke Dozie the founder of OneFi. OneFi is a fintech startup that offers West African under banked and unbanked customers’ access to loans and payments through an android app. they use machine learning to get customer’s credit worthiness in real time.
Tochukwu Uwakeme, the founder of KemResources an ecommerce site that links rural farmers with buyers globally.
The other entrepreneurs from Nigeria included Olugbenga Agboola from Flutterwave and malik Babalola from Gloo.
David Gonahasa the founder of Roundbob which is an online travelling and experience booking site. The platform aims at helping the growing middle class population from Africa to get affordable travel options.
Other entrepreneurs from Uganda were Francis Nkurunungi from Xente and Nielsimms Sangho from Intership.
Hany Girgis the founder of Masry Market. This is an online site assisting consumers to get local alternatives to daily products at competitive prices while offering support to the local SMEs.
The other entrepreneur from Egypt is Hatem Ayoub from Tripdizer.
Bright Chinyundu the founder of Broadpay. This is a fintech startup that includes Broadpay.
Other entrepreneurs based in Zambia are Njavwa Mutambo from Musanga and Chinedu Koggu from ProBase.
Sami Tounsi founder of Monresto a last mile logistic platform linking customers to local vendors and independent drivers in the same marketplace for services on demand.
Sadok Ghanouch the founder of E-taxi platform that offers services to clients using a digital transportation marketplace.
Cedric Atangana the founder of Wecashup a Pan-African payment site that allows online customers to accept all the 155 mobile payment platforms found in Africa using one platform
Andreas Koumato the founder of Mossosouk platform.
Taoufik Mousselma the founder of Maisonmaligne.com. This is an ecommerce site that uses AI tools to feed and optimize its catalogue into various marketplaces. The platform is working out a partnership with North African based manufacturers.