Jack Ma, Asia’s richest man and founder & executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has urged young African entrepreneurs to turn challenges into opportunities if they are to become successful in life.
He said this during a public lecture at The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Ma, 52, challenged Africa’s youth to turn the continent’s problems into opportunities. He urged them to use the infrastructural, social, economic and political challenges as a source of motivation for new innovations.
“When other’s complain about anything, get busy trying to solve that problem,” he urged.
The internet guru was very inspiring in his speech, narrating his success story and challenges he had to overcome to get to where he is.
‘When we began our company, there were only 18 of us. Currently, we employ 56,000 people,” he said.
Starting was however not any rosy for Ma. He found it hard selling his idea to anyone, as they never believed the internet would be welcomed in China, where even telephones were not so common.
With optimism however, he never gave up, and saw those shortcomings in his country as a launch pad for his success.
After starting the online platform, he and his fellow founders struggled to find any clients.
“We listed products on our website, but nobody bought them for weeks so we had to buy them among ourselves,” Ma said, getting the crowd laughing.
Still, he never gave up until his efforts were recognized and people and companies started selling their products on the platform.
Currently, Alibaba delivers over 65 million packages each day.
Ma noted that the future of commerce is in the internet, and that all youth should embrace the technology.
Kenya recently becomes the third most innovative sub saharan African country and I believe its innovative ideas will start materialising. Even the Chinese Billionaire realised this and mentioned it when he said Kenya can create more opportunities for trade through the use of e-commerce and that the country has the capacity to achieve that goal.
This made the business mogul to take a step further by inviting 200 African young entrepreneurs to work at Alibaba headquarters with the aim of gaining experience in fields including; e-commerce, Artificial intelligence and Internet.
“They will come back to Africa to develop their business and help others grow their businesses,” Jack said.
His visit was organized in collaboration with UNCTAD, with its Secretary General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi accompanying him to Nairobi.
38 Male and female billionaires from the Beijing Chamber of commerce accompanied Jack Ma on this trip. They will be looking to cut multi-billion dollar deals with the government and local business personalities.
Ma later left for Rwanda, where he will also seek to inspire more youth to pursue their entrepreneurial targets.
Listen to Jack Ma’s Speech at the University of Nairobi below