Africa’s budding entrepreneurs have been urged to turn challenges into opportunities if they are to become successful in life.
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group was in Kenya on Thursday, where he gave a public lecture at The University of Nairobi.
Ma, 52, challenged Africa’s youth to turn the continent’s problems into opportunities. He urged them to use the infrastructural, social, economic and political challenges as a source of motivation for new innovations.
“When other’s complain about anything, get busy trying to solve that problem,” he urged.
The internet guru was very inspiring in his speech, narrating his success story and challenges he had to overcome to get to where he is.
‘When we began our company, there were only 18 of us. Currently, we employ 56,000 people,” he said.
Starting was however not any rosy for Ma. He found it hard selling his idea to anyone, as they never believed the internet would be welcomed in China, where even telephones were not so common.
With optimism however, he never gave up, and saw those shortcomings in his country as a launch pad for his success.
After starting the online platform, he and his fellow founders struggled to find any clients.
“We listed products on our website, but nobody bought them for weeks so we had to buy them among ourselves,” Ma said, getting the crowd laughing.
Still, he never gave up until his efforts were recognized and people and companies started selling their products on the platform.
Currently, Alibaba delivers over 65 million packages each day.
Ma noted that the future of commerce is in the internet, and that all youth should embrace the technology.
The 52-year-old was accompanied by 52 other billionaires.
His visit was organized in collaboration with UNCTAD, with its Secretary General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi accompanying him to Nairobi.
Ma later left for Rwanda, where he will also seek to inspire more youth to pursue their entrepreneurial targets.