Uganda is among the African Union (AU) member states that have benefited from a donation of medical equipment to fight the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) from Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations.
The overall shipment includes over 1.5 million laboratory diagnostic test kits and over 100 tonnes of infection prevention and control commodities.
Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the Government of Ethiopia received the consignment of the medical equipment on Monday.
The Ministry of Health through its twitter handle yesterday afternoon acknowledged that Uganda’s consignment had reached Entebbe airport, and it came aboard Ethiopian Airlines. It contained; 100,000 masks, 20,089 test kits, 741 PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) and 1,111 face shields.
The relief initiative was launched by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the Jack Ma Foundation, and Alibaba Foundation as part of actions towards implementation of the Africa joint continental strategy for COVID-19 led by the AU through Africa CDC.
But who exactly is Jack Ma?
Jack Ma, or Ma Yun in Chinese (born 10 September 1964), is a Chinese business magnate, investor and politician. He is the co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba Group, a multinational technology conglomerate. Ma is a strong proponent of an open and market-driven economy.
A prominent business leader, Ma is seen as a global ambassador for Chinese business and as such is frequently listed as one of the world’s most powerful people, with Forbes ranking him 21st on its “World’s Most Powerful People” list.
He also serves as a role model for startup businesses. In 2017, Ma was ranked second in the annual “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” list by Fortune. In September 2018, he announced that he would retire from Alibaba and pursue educational work, philanthropy, and environmental causes; the following year, Daniel Zhang succeeded him as executive chairman.
As of March 2020, Ma is the wealthiest person in China, with a net worth of $42.3 billion, as well as one of the wealthiest people in the world, ranked 20th by Bloomberg Billionaires Index and Forbes.
In 2019, Forbes named Ma in its list of “Asia’s 2019 Heroes of Philanthropy” for his work supporting underprivileged communities in China, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East.
Early life and education
Jack Ma was born Ma Yun on 10 September 1964 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. He began studying English at a young age by conversing with English-speakers at Hangzhou International Hotel. For nine years, Ma would ride 17 miles on his bicycle to give tourists tours of the area to practice his English. He became pen pals with one of those foreigners, who nicknamed him “Jack” because he found it hard to pronounce his Chinese name.
Later in his youth, Ma struggled attending college. The Chinese entrance exams are held only once a year and Ma took four years to pass. Ma attended Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute (currently known as Hangzhou Normal University) and graduated in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.
While at school, Ma was head of the student council. After graduation, he became a lecturer in English and international trade at Hangzhou Dianzi University. He also applied ten times to Harvard Business School and got rejected each time.
Ma applied for 30 different jobs and got rejected by all. “I went for a job with the police; they said, ‘you’re no good'”, Ma told interviewer Charlie Rose. “I even went to KFC when it came to my city. Twenty-four people went for the job. Twenty-three were accepted. I was not.”
In 1994, Ma heard about the Internet and also started his first company, Hangzhou Haibo Translation Agency. In early 1995, he went to the US with his friends, who helped introduce him to the Internet. Although he found information related to beer from many countries, he was surprised to find none from China. He also tried to search for general information about China and again was surprised to find none. So he and his friend created an “ugly” website related to China.
He launched the website at 9:40 AM, and by 12:30 PM he had received emails from some Chinese investors wishing to know about him. This was whenMa realized that the Internet had something great to offer. In April 1995, Ma and He Yibing (a computer teacher) opened the first office for China Pages and Ma started their second company.
On May 10, 1995, they registered the domain chinapages.com in the United States. Within three years, the company had made 5,000,000 Chinese Yuan which at the time was equivalent to US$800,000.
Ma began building websites for Chinese companies with the help of friends in the US. He said that “The day we got connected to the Web, I invited friends and TV people over to my house”, and on a very slow dial-up connection, “we waited three and a half hours and got half a page”, he recalled. “We drank, watched TV and played cards, waiting. But I was so proud. I proved the Internet existed”.
At a conference in 2010, Ma revealed that he has never actually written a line of code nor made one sale to a customer. He acquired a computer for the first time at the age of 33.
From 1998 to 1999, Ma headed an information technology company established by the China International Electronic Commerce Center, a department of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. In 1999, he quit and returned to Hangzhou with his team to found Alibaba, a China-based business-to-business marketplace site in his apartment with a group of 18 friends.
He started a new round of venture development with 500,000 yuan.
Jack Ma at 2007 China Trust Global Leaders Forum
In October 1999 and January 2000, Alibaba twice won a total of a $25 million foreign venture capital investment. The program was expected to improve the domestic e-commerce market and perfect an e-commerce platform for Chinese enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to address World Trade Organization (WTO) challenges. Ma wanted to improve the global e-commerce system and from 2003 he founded Taobao Marketplace, Alipay, Ali Mama and Lynx. After the rapid rise of Taobao, eBay offered to purchase the company. However, Ma rejected their offer, instead gathering support from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang with a $1 billion investment.
In September 2014 it was reported Alibaba was raising over $25 billion in an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange.
Alibaba became one of the most valuable technology companies in the world after raising the full $25 billion, the largest initial public offering in US financial history. Ma served as executive chairman of Alibaba Group, which is a holding company with nine major subsidiaries: Alibaba.com, Taobao Marketplace, Tmall, eTao, Alibaba Cloud Computing, Juhuasuan, 1688.com, AliExpress.com, and Alipay. In November 2012, Alibaba’s online transaction volume exceeded one trillion yuan. As of 2016, Ma is the owner of Château de Sours in Bordeaux, Chateau Guerry in Côtes de Bourg and Château Perenne in Blaye, Côtes de Bordeaux.
On 9 January 2017, Ma met with United States President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, to discuss the potential of 1 million job openings in the following five years through Alibaba’s interest in the country.
On 8 September 2017, to celebrate Alibaba’s 18th year of establishment, Ma appeared on stage and gave a Michael-Jackson-inspired performance. He performed part of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” at the 2009 Alibaba birthday event while dressed as a heavy metal lead singer.
In the same month, Ma also partnered with Sir Li Ka-shing in a joint venture to offer a digital wallet service in Hong Kong.
Ma announced on 10 September 2018 that he would step down as executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding in the coming year.
Ma denied reports that he was forced to step aside by the Chinese government and stated that he wants to focus on philanthropy through his foundation.
Daniel Zhang would then lead the way ahead for Alibaba as the current executive chairman.
In 2017, Ma made his acting debut with his first kung fu short film Gong Shou Dao. It was filmed in collaboration with the Double 11 Shopping Carnival Singles’ Day.
In the same year, he also participated in a singing festival and performed dances during Alibaba’s 18th anniversary party.