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No less than 86 African start-up founders and entrepreneurs have successfully completed the Alibaba netpreneur training (ANT) programme presented by Alibaba Global Initiatives. This is the professional training arm of the Alibaba Group, a Chinese multinational technology company.
Held from mid-October to mid-November, the Africa-specific edition was rolled out with support from the Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition, a philanthropic initiative that aims to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs.
Amidst a growing pivot towards digital channels by companies worldwide, the Alibaba programme offered entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn and explore how to harness digital technology to expand their businesses and contribute to the local economy.
Over a four-week period, the online programme walked the participants through the latest trends and practices shaping China’s digital economy, as well as approaches and frameworks for entrepreneurs to build a successful and innovative business in today’s digital world.
The 86 graduates emerged following their successful completion of a series of classes, assignments and assessments, which demonstrates their understanding of the fundamentals of the digital economy and ability to apply their new-found insights in their respective businesses.
Collectively, they represent various industries varying from agriculture, education, information and communication technology (ICT), and trading.
Among the graduates in this cohort was Ritalee Monde, founder of Leemed Supplies from Zimbabwe, who started her own business in 2018 with a purpose of providing better access to medical supplies and equipment in her country, especially for women and children in rural regions. The initial years of Monde’s business were no smooth sailing, but that did not stop her from exploring new approaches and opportunities.
“I enrolled for the Netpreneur training because I wanted to change the way I conduct business. I was looking forward to studying business frameworks and strategies that would improve my company’s capacity to promote innovation and deliver quality outcomes,” said Monde.
“Attending webinars led by a group of people who had really made the journey was quite inspiring. My biggest takeaway is getting to know what business digitalization means. In the same way it has led to the success of many SMEs operating in Alibaba’s ecosystem, I believe a digital shift will help my company tap into new markets and clientele, enhance our productivity, reduce operating and marketing expenses, and lay a foundation to create new jobs and innovate.”
Celebrating Alibaba innovations
Already running a digital business that spans procurement and forwarding service as well as digital marketing and web development, Emmanuel Yao Agbodo, founder of Engcando Logistics and Consultancy from Ghana also saw value in the netpreneur programme.
“I have long heard about Alibaba’s innovations and I was curious to learn how the company is able to make them happen. I have also been envisioning to export locally made products from Ghana one day through digital platforms,” said Yao Agbodo.
“What I found most useful for my business was the modules about mission, vision and values as they are essential to the organizational development and strategic planning of any business, be it digital or traditional. The lesson has sparked new ideas that my company can adopt as we strive to become a leading digital platform in Ghana connecting the local and the international markets.”
Adesola Adetunji, founder of Digital Education Management System World Academy from Nigeria, also benefited most from the lectures on business fundamentals provided by the training. His start-up, founded last year, is on a mission to provide education in and beyond Nigeria that bridges the gap between what is taught at school and what students nowadays actually need.
All participants who completed the course have been invited to join the AGI entrepreneur community, where they are able to continue to network with passionate and like-minded entrepreneurs, as well as enjoy access to post-program learning opportunities such as webinars and newsletters.
Outstanding performers among the trainees will also be eligible to participate in offline immersion programmes at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China once travel restrictions are lifted.
The Alibaba netpreneur training programme was first introduced in 2019 as an initiative to drive success for entrepreneurs in the digital economy. To date, it has successfully trained more than 1 800 entrepreneurs in Africa, Europe, Latin America as well as South and Southeast Asia.