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Entrepreneurs In Africa. How Will They Drive The Next Digital Revolution

Entrepreneurs In Africa. How Will They Drive The Next Digital Revolution

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What does it mean to be entrepreneurs in Africa? Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba Group, talks of this in his opinion piece in the New York Times. In this photo taken, Thursday, Sept.13, 2012, Affiong Osuchukwu, Google’s Nigeria marketing manager, left, with unidentified man speaks to the Associated Press, during an interview, in Lagos, Nigeria. With all its cutting-edge technology, Google Inc. has turned back to the text message in its efforts to break into Nigeria’s booming economy. The search engine has started a service in Nigeria, as well as Ghana and Kenya, allowing mobile phone users to access emails through text messaging. That comes as the company’s office in Lagos has begun working with small business owners in this nation of more than 160 million people. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

What does it mean to be entrepreneurs in Africa? Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba Group, talks of this in his opinion piece in the New York Times.

The first time I set foot in Africa was in 2017. I was visiting Kenya and Rwanda in my roles as special adviser to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and as an advocate for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, promoting entrepreneurship as a path to economic growth.

I had read quite a bit about Africa and thought I had a sense of what I would encounter. Mostly, I expected to be out of my comfort zone — to feel a sense of being in a foreign place very unlike what I was used to.


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To my great surprise, I could not have felt more at home.

Story from The New York Times. Story by Jack Ma.

Whenever I travel, meeting young people and entrepreneurs is my priority. Speaking with groups of African entrepreneurs, and hearing their stories and dreams, I saw myself 20 years ago, when I was just starting Alibaba.

In much of Africa today, I’ve found that entrepreneurship is not the exalted career path it is in the United States or even increasingly in China. The prudent thing for most Africans to do is to get a stable, salaried job in the banking, energy or mining sectors. Entrepreneurship is for the hustlers — those who can’t hold down a traditional job and have to get creative and scrappy to make a living.

And yet I believe that Africa’s future will be built by its entrepreneurs — by the hungry dreamers who view problems as opportunities. Looking into the eyes of the young people I met in 2017, I saw the future heroes of Africa. And I vowed that I would do my part to help them achieve their goals.

Africa is poised for radical change. The world is experiencing a digital revolution, which I believe has the potential to be not only the most transformative but also the most inclusive technological revolution we have ever seen. Today, anyone with a smartphone can get a loan and start a business. Mobile technology and the internet have put access to countless products and services in the palm of every person’s hand. The digital revolution has the potential to drive tremendous — and inclusive — economic prosperity for Africa. But we need digital entrepreneurs to create the companies that can make all this possible.