Jack Ma Named Special Adviser to UN on Trade

Following his recent stint as chairman of a small-business task force advising the G20, Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma has been named Special Adviser on youth entrepreneurship and small business to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

As Special Adviser, Ma will support UNCTAD in its mission of maximizing trade, investment and economic advancement in developing countries. Founder of the world’s largest e-commerce company, Ma will promote initiatives that give young entrepreneurs and small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a chance to compete internationally, not only in their home countries.

“It is an honor to serve as UNCTAD’s Special Adviser on Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business,” said Ma. “I have spent my career working with entrepreneurs and know the positive social and economic impact when people are given the opportunity to participate in the global economy.”

Ma “brings a visionary approach to entrepreneurship, a thirst for learning and a belief in a better world that make him a perfect match for UNCTAD,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, the organization’s secretary-general, calling him “an influential and respected pioneer of the internet era, (an) innovator, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.”

“Together we will be able to reach out to communities that feel left behind in today’s global landscape with a message of hope and self-empowerment,” Kituyi said in a statement.

Ma’s new role also involves raising awareness for the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In January, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named him a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate. In a statement from Ban, he noted the part that Ma could play in helping UNCTAD with its eTrade for All initiative.

“I am honored that one of our SDG Advocates, Mr. Jack Ma, will be supporting this work,” Ban said.

Ma has been campaigning for what he calls the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), an internet-based international group he wants to establish in order to lower trade barriers and help SMEs more easily participate in international trade. The eWTP was acknowledged in the official communiqué of the G20 summit held in Alibaba’s home city of Hangzhou, China, earlier this month.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said that Ma understood how China had lifted 700 million people out of poverty, through more trade and competition rather than less, and that those principles could be employed elsewhere in the world as well.

“I believe Jack Ma understands about what needs to be done to help small and medium enterprises to encourage entrepreneurship, even in the poorest communities,” Kim said. “It’s still potentially the one way that we can get the world free of extreme poverty in which we grow the economy in a way that’s inclusive.