Alibaba Global Initiatives (“AGI”) announced the graduation of 86 African entrepreneurs from the latest edition of the Alibaba Netpreneur Training (“ANT”) Program. 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 ANT Program offers 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 program 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 & communication technology (ICT), and trading.
Among the graduates in this cohort was Ritalee Monde, Founder of Leemed Supplies Pvt Ltd 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 Ritalee’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.”
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 program.
“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.
“I am ambitious, but I didn’t know how to turn my ambition into reality. With what I have learned from the Netpreneur training, I have acquired the key to formulating my own strategy, which gets me one step closer to realizing my ambition,” said Adetunji. “Among other learnings, I have learned to put my customers front and center, establish and maintain my own company culture, always bet on big ideas, and embrace failure.”
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 programs at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China once travel restrictions are lifted.
The Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program 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.