Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma has been asked to serve a second year as Special Adviser on youth entrepreneurship and small business to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Ma was appointed to the role last September and has spent the past year promoting the work of UNCTAD and the UN at large. In addition to focusing on promoting entrepreneurship and the growth of small businesses, he serves as an Advocate for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Ma will continue to work with UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi on these projects.
In April, he attended UNCTAD’s E-Commerce Week in Geneva, calling for ways to make cross-border e-commerce more inclusive and accessible for developing countries so that they may grow and participate in the larger global economy. Ma has said that such policies at the government level make it possible for small and medium enterprises to thrive, which his critical as these SMEs typically make up a large part of the economy in developing countries.
Ma followed up three months later with stops in Kenya and Rwanda on the part of UNCTAD to further promote entrepreneurship, especially among young people. While there, he pledged to create a training program with UNCTAD that would bring young African entrepreneurs to Alibaba’s headquarters in Hanghzou to study e-commerce, while also working with African universities and governments to create a training programs in centered on e-commerce, artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing.
The scope of his work on the SDGs goes beyond business.
Ma also has focused his efforts on expanding access to education, donating $20 million to the University of Newcastle in Australia to support disadvantaged students, while also increasing awareness of women’s issues through a Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship in July. Also in July, the Paradise Foundation, a China-based NGO created by Ma, announced a program to support African rangers in protecting wildlife against poachers.
For a full list of contributions to the UN’s SDGs by Jack Ma and Alibaba, see the infographic below.