December 18th 2017

Business / News

Jack Ma’s first to Nairobi brings empowerment to the young enterpreneurs

The Chinese billionaire said that Africa's poor infrastructure, social, economic and political situation should be a source of innovation for most entrepreneurs, just as lack of e-commerce in his home country inspired him to start one of the biggest online marketplaces.

By Trizza Kimanitkimani@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 21 Jul 2017 12:02 EAT

Ali Baba CEO and Executive Chairman Jack Ma during a public lecture at the University of Nairobi.

On his first trip to Africa, China’s richest man Jack Ma, the Executive Chairperson of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, spoke at the University of Nairobi yesterday evening about the value of constant learning, the power of the internet, and how the combination of the two can be utilized to solve the day-to-day challenges facing the continent. Mr Ma also spoke about the process of failure, and how that can be a catalyst for innovation and progress.

“You have to get used to failure. If you can’t, then how can you win,” he said, while delivering a public lecture at the University.

The Chinese billionaire said that Africa's poor infrastructure, social, economic and political situation should be a source of innovation for most entrepreneurs, just as lack of e-commerce in his home country inspired him to start one of the biggest online marketplaces.

“If the Government does not have a solution to any problem, it is an opportunity. If people complain, it is an opportunity." He told a room packed with students.

The businessman with a real time net worth of 35.5 billion U.S. dollars, is special adviser for youth entrepreneurship and small businesses to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), is on a two-day trip to Kenya and Rwanda to share insights with African entrepreneurs.

The business mogul was yesterday accompanied by 38 other billionaires, investors and real estate tycoons from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce who are in the country in search of multi-billion dollar business opportunities with the government as well as local business people.

The reception of his trip has been almost fawning in a way that Mark Zuckerberg’s surprise visit last September was not. Floor-to-ceiling posters and billboards featuring his face decorated various venues where he has been speaking in Nairobi. Mr Ma, also met President Uhuru Kenyatta in State House.

From an underdog to one of the richest men in the world, Mr Ma’s story is one that resonates in Kenya. Mr Ma applied for 30 jobs, including at KFC when it opened in his home city of Hangzhou. He was rejected from all of them. Unlike Zuckerberg who created Facebook from his Harvard dorm room, Mr Ma struggled to go to college—he failed the entrance exam three times, and started Alibaba from his apartment.

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