Rwandan entrepreneurs benefit from Alibaba training programme

30 Rwanda-based entrepreneurs and founders completed the first Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program.

Alibaba Business School, Alibaba Group’s university, last week hosted 30 Rwanda-based entrepreneurs at the company’s global headquarter in Hanghzou to learn from Alibaba’s experience and the tools needed to run successful business in the digital era.

This was the first cohort of the Alibaba “Netpreneur Training Programme” whose aim is to help entrepreneurs transform their businesses for the digital era and overcome country-specific challenges.

The programme is a result of a partnership between Alibaba Rwanda Development Board (RDB), tailored to help solve for problems and issues that entrepreneurs face within their local ecosystem.

It is set to benefit both digital entrepreneurs and leaders of traditional businesses, spanning from tea growers and shoe manufacturing to financial technology and logistics, to seize the opportunities offered by the digital economy.

According to a joint statement by RDB and Alibaba, the training programme aims to establish digital success cases that can serve as role models for other entrepreneurs and business owners across the country, and even the entire continent.

“We are thrilled to be launching a programme that will impact businesses that can benefit most from the adoption of digital technology. We believe by sharing our lessons and experiences with local entrepreneurs, we can enable multiple segments of the local value chain and strengthen Rwanda’s overall capabilities to utilise e-commerce for local and international trade” said Brian Wong, Alibaba Group’s Vice President who also heads the Global Initiatives programme.

“Our hope is that programmes like the Alibaba Netpreneur Training program will help to build a digital economy that allows everyone to participate fully and benefit equally,” he added.

Rwandan entrepreneurs in Hangzhou for Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program.

The Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program follows the launch of the first African eWTP (electronic world trade platform) hub in Rwanda last October.

Under the eWTP agreement, the Government and Alibaba committed to work together to promote policy innovation and provide capacity building to empower the growth of Rwanda's digital economy.

Meanwhile, through the Netpreneur Programme, Wong highlighted that they are offering a curriculum specifically designed for Rwanda by providing targeted training that zeroes in on the unique needs of the local economy.

This, they say, enables participants to easily put into practice the skills and knowledge they learned from the programme and become role models for other entrepreneurs back home.

During the ten-day programme in Hangzhou, participants met with business leaders from Alibaba Group as well as merchants on Alibaba’s platforms to learn about their own experience building up the e-commerce ecosystem in China.

The programme included numerous site visits to see first-hand how the internet has completely transformed daily life in China.

In a nutshell, the big idea is to inspire and support Rwandan entrepreneurs to return home to build companies that can serve as the foundation for a digital economy.

With the partnership, Clare Akamanzi, RDB’s Chief Executive Officer stated that they are committed to leveraging the digital economy to support local exporters, producers and artisans.