Rwandan entrepreneurs whose startups are based in the technology space can be part of this year’s edition of eFounders Fellowship, a brainchild of Chinese billionaire and founder of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma.

The fellowship, co-organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), will convene select African entrepreneurs in China for a 2-week intensive course on e-commerce.

The initiative targets empowering 1,000 entrepreneurs in developing countries over the next five years.

This is the second edition of the programme which opened last year and Rwandans are eligible to apply, according to a statement released by Alibaba Business School.

Last year, at least three Rwandan startups participated in the inaugural programme.

The two-week intensive course is targeting entrepreneurs in developing countries who are operating technology related businesses in the e-commerce, logistics, big data, and tourism sectors.

“The programme will provide first-hand exposure to and learning about e-commerce innovations from China and around the world that enabled growth and a more inclusive development model for all,” the statement reads in part.

“With a focus on highlighting breakthrough innovations that have transformed society in China, the programme will inspire each participant to think of creative frameworks based on prior expertise and new learnings that can be applied to their own home markets,” it adds.

Participating entrepreneurs, who UNCTAD and Alibaba say can spread powerful new ideas around the world by creating impactful communities and empowering their peers, will be given the tools to improve their own ventures and are expected to serve as network builders and champions of new ways to approach commerce in their own markets.

Among the local firms that participated last year include, Go Limited, a startup that assists farmers to improve yield by availing the right, modern and personalised best practices.

Mergims, a local technology start-up that connects Diaspora people to their African counterparts by enabling them to pay for utilities, among other expenses, also took part.

The third local firm was Pikkostores, an online shopping and selling platform that provides customers shopping experience and retailers simple and direct access to the largest customer base in East Africa.

The initiative is part of a bigger promise that Ma, who’s also the special adviser to UNCTAD, made during his visit to Rwanda in 2017 where he announced that he would be creating a $10 million Young African Entrepreneurs Fund.

The entrepreneurship programme consists of structured series of classrooms, workshops and lectures, site visits and hackathons. It will take place in Hangzhou city, in China.

Last year, 25 entrepreneurs were selected from across the continent, but this year the fellowship seeks to benefit up to 40 startup entrepreneurs from across Africa. The application deadline is May 4.

First Published by the NEWS TIMES

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