6 Pakistanis Return from Alibaba’s eFounders Fellowship 


38 Asian entrepreneurs got a chance to be part of the fourth edition of the eFounders Fellowship, a joint initiative by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Alibaba Business School. Among those individuals were also 6 Pakistanis.

The eFounders fellowship aim is to bridge the digital divide and to enable young entrepreneurs with the skills that will help them and encourage them in doing better when it comes to their business.

The six Pakistanis that made it to the fellowship include: Alizeh Gohar, Hunarmund; Nazish Hussain, Secret Stash; Umer Munawar, Finja; Muneeb Maayr, Bykea; Hassaan Sadiq, GrocerApp; and Khurram Mir, BookMyUmrah.

Fellowship Participants with Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba. Image source: Alibaba/eFounders Fellowship

Looking East

Nazish Hussain, Founder SecretStash penned down her experience “It’s Time to Look East“, sharing:

“As a founder running an e-commerce start up, like most tech entrepreneurs, I’ve always looked at Silicon Valley for inspiration. However, after spending over 2 weeks in China I’ve come to the realization that perhaps we should be looking a little closer to home.

After these past few weeks in China and learning how Alibaba has digitalized the Chinese consumer, I’ve realized we here in Pakistan need to evolve our efforts and target our customers in a similar manner.”

The curriculum at the fellowship provided entrepreneurs with first-hand insight on Alibaba’s journey where it started from a small startup to a successful tech giant. Furthermore, the participants were also informed about industry trends and developments such as the impact of e-commerce in rural areas. They were encouraged to explore how they can share and use their newly acquired knowledge with their community back home.

Read: PSBC Organizes 2nd Nordic Pakistan IT Summit in Stockholm

Speaking to local news about their experience in China and visiting the double 11 sale, Muneeb Maayr said,

“What I learnt over the next 20 days in China was that every employee at Alibaba is on a mission, to make business easier for all and to train, mentor and encourage a new set of leaders for this dream to perpetuate.”

He also talks about how Alibaba is associated with multiple companies and how they originally started out as a B2B portal. According to him, the entire infrastructure of the ecommerce giant works on Alicloud, a cloud server structure that the business had to build on their own to save cost and ensure reliability during peak loads such as double 11.

Alibaba’s Business Strategy

Summing up Alibaba’s business strategy Maayr said,

“If you help the small businesses with free software, and you help them grow, they will take incremental earnings and share more with you for marketing and the more data you collect on this customer, the more leads you can generate for 3rd parties whose core business it is to offer that product.”

Speaking about the work environment within Alibaba, he said that the employees are mandated to document out-of-office hour social work and are required to teach a training class to mentor. Moreover, Alibaba also gives a pin on an employee’s 1st year anniversary, a Jade pendent on 3 years, an engraved mission ring on 5 years. Adding a fun aspect, the giant also encourages all employees to have a fictional martial arts character name printed on their employee access cards and the employees are mostly known within the organization with their fictional character names.

Giving Back

As part of its commitment to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, UNCTAD teamed up with Alibaba Group to support 1000 entrepreneurs in developing countries to become catalysts for the digital transformation in their home countries. Jack Ma is a Special Advisor to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), who recognized that by applying ideas from China’s most innovative businesses to their own ventures, participants will have the opportunity to innovate in their home countries.

Image source: UNCTAD / eFounders Initiative