“This is where I see Africa, full of problems, but full of opportunities.” Ma‘s statement in an auditorium at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. With a majority of Africans trying to fish out different means of employment, entrepreneurship is seen as a key to economic growth. Looking at the challenges most entrepreneurs face, especially, those in Africa, Jack Ma has decided to encourage African tech innovators.

After founding the e-commerce company, Alibaba, it took close to two decades for its founder, Jack Ma to visit Africa. He first visited Africa in 2017. During his three-day stay on the continent, he interacted with entrepreneurs from Kenya and Rwanda to seek solutions on how youths and small businesses can involve in global trade. One year later, that mission hasn’t changed.

Ma recently launched the Netpreneur Prize, a $10 million dollar competition for African tech innovators. His aim is to support African entrepreneurship and help Africans make use of the entrepreneurial opportunities the continent has. The prize will, as well, spur Africa’s digital economy through local entrepreneurship.

Jack Ma’s struggle as an entrepreneur is exactly what African entrepreneurs are going through now. The terrain for entrepreneurship in Africa is a risky one. However, most African entrepreneurs fail because they don’t know their way out through these challenges. Good enough, the youths are fast getting into the entrepreneurial sector despite the many challenges.

African youths have come to realize that it is time they stopped relying on the government.

Ma’s coming to Africa is timely. It comes at a moment when Africa is undergoing a tech entrepreneurial revolution. The field is not yet smooth but with encouragement from those who struggled and never gave up like Ma, the entrepreneurial sector will take a different turn.

What it takes to be among African tech innovators

You must not be a computer expert to become a successful entrepreneur. While calling on the African governments to create an atmosphere conducive for entrepreneurs, Ma is also calling on upcoming entrepreneurs to believe in their dreams. They should find good people and make sure the customer is happy.

A successful entrepreneur starts by noticing a problem in a community, then look for possible solutions to that problem. So, it is not all about money; rather it is about looking for solutions to problems you or a community faces.

Like Jack Ma, every entrepreneur needs to have a vision first before venturing into the entrepreneurial sector. Ma was bent on setting up his own e-commerce company in China with the vision “global vision, local win.”

However, it doesn’t suffice to have a vision. Upcoming entrepreneurs should use the resources they have judiciously. Money isn’t a guarantee to succeed as an entrepreneur. What guarantees an entrepreneur’s success is how well they make use of available resources.

Jack Ma’s interest in Africa will intensify relations between China and Africa. The competition administered through Ma’s foundation will host an annual pitching session. This will last for 10 years, awarding $1 million yearly to successful entrepreneurs.



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