Alibaba News Roundup: Africa’s Business Heroes Finalists; Amap Helps Users Find Shade; Maker Festival Kicks Off

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Alibaba News Roundup: Africa’s Business Heroes Finalists; Amap Helps Users Find Shade; Maker Festival Kicks Off

Photo credit: Alibaba Group



This week, Africa’s Business Heroes startup competition unveiled its top 20 entrants as the Alibaba Group-backed event prepares for the semi-finals next month in Kigali.

In other news, Alibaba’s navigation platform Amap launched a service for pedestrians, cyclists and scooter-riders to find the coolest and shadiest paths as heat waves beat down on China.

Meanwhile, trend-savvy Chinese consumers and fledgling entrepreneurs gathered for the seventh annual Maker Festival, one of Asia’s largest retail exhibitions.

Africa’s Business Heroes Announces 2022’s Top 20 Finalists  

Judges selected the top 20 finalists from a pool of 21,000 candidates earlier this month as the Africa’s Business Heroes entrepreneurship competition moves into the last round of pitches.

This year’s contenders for the $1.5 million prize pool are specialists in fields from agriculture to energy and hail from across the African continent.

“We are looking forward to giving them the support they need to grow and generate a positive impact on both their businesses and the communities they serve,” said Zahra Baitie-Boateng, Head of Partnerships & Programs for the event. 

Female entrants account for half the finalists, and for the first time since its launch by the Jack Ma Foundation in 2017, a Somalian entrepreneur made it into the Africa’s Business Heroes top 20.

Over the following weeks, accountancy firm PwC will perform due diligence on the finalists ahead of the first face-to-face semi-final heat since 2019. 

Amap Alibaba Shade
Finding shade is the name of the game with Amap’s new feature to beat the heat. Photo credit: Alibaba Group

Amap Offers Chill Routes Amid Heat Wave in China

Mapping platform Amap rolled out a “sunscreen navigation” service in 22 Chinese cities this week to make users’ outdoor trips easier amid crushing heat waves that have brought the country to a halt.

The app calculates the shortest and shadiest route for pedestrians, bikers or scooter riders based on real-time traffic and shadow movements on the streets. Users are presented with recommended routes with “shadow from the trees” or “shadow from the buildings” when they search for directions in the app. 

The feature is enabled by remote sensors and ray-tracing technologies that model light transport through rendering algorithms. 

This summer, China experienced the severest heat wave since 1961, according to the National Climate Center, as months of drought and elevated temperatures scorch the nation’s southern provinces.

Alibaba kicked off its annual shopping bazaar, the Maker Festival, on Wednesday, showcasing innovation by Chinese entrepreneurs and the latest consumption trends in the world’s second-largest economy.

Consumers can roam the halls at the Maker Festival, browsing thousands of products typically only found online on Alibaba’s e-commerce marketplaces, Taobao and Tmall.

This year the festival is taking place in Guangzhou between Aug. 24 and Aug. 30, a major manufacturing hub in Southern China on the banks of the Pearl River. The city has more Taobao merchants than any other city in China.

Read more here

Taobao’s Han Wenfei on Nurturing Entrepreneurship

Alibaba executive Han Wenfei is a strong supporter of entrepreneurial endeavours

Entrepreneurship is alive and well in China, according to Han Wenfei, General Marketing Manager at Taobao and Tmall.

“Taobao and Tmall offer a vibrant e-commerce environment which provides entrepreneurs with a comprehensive digital growth path making it an ideal partner for SMEs and entrepreneurs,” the 12-year Alibaba veteran told Alizila in a video interview.

Alibaba Cloud Unveils Design Platform for High-Performance Edge AI Chips

Alibaba’s cloud computing arm unveiled on Wednesday a platform for developers to create AI-enabled edge chips leveraging the RISC-V instruction-set architecture.

Developed by Alibaba’s in-house chip development business, T-Head, the Wujian 600 platform supports edge-AI computing, a form of machine learning that sees AI applications used in physical devices.

The platform enables companies to design edge-AI Systems-On-Chips (SoCs) — chips that combine multiple computing systems into one tidy package — that comply with the open instruction set architecture RISC-V.

“Customers can leverage the platform to develop their high-performance SoCs in a fast and efficient way,” said Meng Jianyi, Vice President of T-Head, in a statement.

Read more here

Ele.me Teams up with ByteDance’s Douyin To Broaden Reach For Merchants

Alibaba’s food delivery platform Ele.me is teaming up with Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, to help merchants reach users of the short video app.

The collaboration will open Ele.me to some 600 million daily active users on ByteDance-owned Douyin, the platform said on Aug. 19.

Consumers can stream videos, browse merchant offerings and place restaurant orders through an Ele.me mini-program embedded in the Douyin app, which Alibaba will fulfill.

“The collaboration with Douyin is a new beginning. We believe this collaboration will further enhance the digitalization capabilities of merchants,” said Yu Yongfu, president of the lifestyle services division at Alibaba, in a Mandarin statement.

The move aligns with a broader opening up of digital platforms and greater interoperability across China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Read more here

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