Alibaba extends trade deal with Rwanda

Alibaba extends trade deal with Rwanda

Alibaba Group has extended its partnership with Rwanda and pledged to increase imports from the East African nation.

The company has also launched a four-year training program for Rwandan students to learn cross-border e-commerce.

Rwanda Development Board agreed to continue its membership in the Electronic World Trade Platform for another three years.

Rwanda became the first country to join eWTP, an Alibaba-led initiative that aims to lower barriers to global trade for small- and medium-sized enterprises via e-commerce.

In addition, Alibaba Business School signed an agreement with RDB to start an undergraduate program that will train students in international business and cross-border e-commerce to bridge the skills shortage.

Twenty-two students are expected to enroll for the next intake, which begins in September.

Twenty of them will be jointly funded by the Higher Education Council of Rwanda and Alibaba.

Alibaba’s New Retail-powered supermarket chain, Freshippo, also signed a memorandum with the RDB, agreeing to import Rwandan chili to its 150 self-operated stores in China.

Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma first visited Africa in 2017, later saying he was impressed by the country’s young entrepreneurs and local businesses and pledged to support the growth of the digital economy in Africa.

Since then, Rwandan educators have participated in Alibaba Business School’s “Global E-commerce Talent – Train the Trainers” program, which seeks to deepen teachers’ understanding of the e-commerce industry, while Rwandan startup founders visited Hangzhou for training under the school’s Netpreneur program and the eFounders Fellowship, which was created in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Rwandan government officials have also been to Alibaba headquarters for a “New Economy Workshop” to learn how to build and sustain economic growth in the digital era.

“We’ve seen great momentum through our collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board to provide capacity-building to all key stakeholders who are drivers of the digital economy,” said Alibaba Vice President of Global Initiatives Brian Wong.

Wong pointed to the 40 Rwandan entrepreneurs who have received training through the eFounders’ Fellowship and Netpreneur program, as well as the 12 Rwandan government delegates that attended the New Economy Workshop.

“We are hoping that through our continuous effort, cross-sector synergy and public-private collaboration will be cultivated through the respective programs and will continue to drive actions towards the goal of an inclusive digital economy,” he said.

Nadia Uwamahoro, the founder of SME-focused software company Data Systems, said the biggest takeaway from her training as an eFounder was that a company’s mission, culture, and values need to be formulated and explained to both employees and the market from the beginning.

“I used to not consider that, but now I do,” she said. “This has made people understand exactly what we stand for and we have become more focused as a company since.”