Pargo attends Netpreneurs The Rise of Africa’s Digital Lions Conference

Earlier this month I was lucky to attend The Rise of Africa’s Digital Lions, a Netpreneurs conference jointly organised by the Alibaba Business School, the Jack Ma Foundation and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). As one of the fellows of the Alibaba eFounders I was invited to join over 800 entrepreneurs, policymakers, academics and students in Johannesburg to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing digital businesses in Africa. It was a pleasure to take part in this discussion as Pargo strives to solve delivery issues and be a key enabler for ecommerce growth across Africa.

Transforming a new digital Africa

Thought leaders such as Alibaba Group Founder Jack Ma, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi (Secretary General of UNCTAD), Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane (South African Science and Technology Minister), Bogolo Kenewendo (Botswana’s investment, trade and industry minister) and African entrepreneurs came together to talk about a new digital Africa.

We discussed the role that the public sector, investors, entrepreneurs and educational organizations can play in this transformation. A variety of interesting topics were covered during the conference, with lots of positive outcomes. Young African entrepreneurs shared their journeys and challenges of developing digital businesses on the continent, business leaders examined how to fuel growth through investment and experts debated how to develop digital skills and train the new generation to achieve economic success.

eFounders Fellowship Initiative

It is clear that as African entrepreneurs continue to innovate, we are attracting the interest of global players such as Alibaba who see the future potential of the continent and are keen to assist in driving digital transformation in Africa. Last year the Alibaba Business School and UNCTAD announced the eFounders Fellowship Initiative, aimed at identifying and unifying the top African start-up entrepreneurs. The programme was set up to train 1,000 entrepreneurs from emerging markets.

Pargo was proud to be recognised as a game changer in African smart logistics and I was selected as one of 25 African entrepreneurs to join the eFounders Initiative Entrepreneurship Training Programme. It was an honour to learn about Alibaba’s successes and failures and what it took to become the world’s biggest retail company. These are invaluable insights which continue to help grow and shape our business.

The Netpreneur Prize

Alibaba Group Founder and renowned entrepreneur Jack Ma was so inspired by the energy of the young people he met in 2017 that he wanted to continue driving innovation in Africa. During the event, Jack Ma announced a 10 million US Dollar prize to empower 100 African entrepreneurs over the next 10 years. He said, ‘This prize demonstrates our support of the next generation of young entrepreneurs across Africa who are paving the way for a better future and imparting positive change in their communities.’

Starting in 2019, The Netpreneur Prize aims to support 10 African entrepreneurs a year, specifically those who are working to solve Africa’s biggest issues and build their digital economies through local entrepreneurship. All industries will be able to apply for the first pitch which will be open from January until April 2019.

Africa’s bright future

The highlight of the day was when Jack Ma delivered a very inspiring speech about the enormous opportunities available in Africa and why he believes that over the next 10-20 years, Africa will produce the next top 10 company in the world. This is very encouraging to hear for Pargo as we continue to transform Africa’s logistics industry with our extensive network of Pargo Pick-up Points. Alongside the eFounders Fellowship Initiative and the Netpreneur Prize which promises 10 years of support for Africa’s startup community; there is lots of potential for business relationships to be nurtured between Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba and key innovators in Africa’s digital space. I’m so excited to see what’s next for Africa and its tech entrepreneurs!

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