Students Attend UNCTAD Youth Event


On 25 April, students from Webster University Geneva attended a session organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for youth on youth employment in the digital economy, during the 2017 UNCTAD E-Commerce Week. It was an informal, interactive session with, as main guest speaker, Jack Ma, founder and chairman of the Chinese Alibaba Group and UNCTAD Special Adviser for young entrepreneurs and small business.

Two students who attended the event reflected on their experience. The first, Natalie Cambieri wrote of Jack Ma:

"He believes entrepreneurs never should worry; as a matter of fact, experience, lessons and mistakes are all what shapes an entrepreneur. He strongly believes that the youth will be the future of e-commerce and goes on to call them “net entrepreneurs.” He strongly believes when you are a young entrepreneur, you start from scratch therefore you have nothing to lose."

"He said, “Today is difficult, tomorrow is much more difficult, but after tomorrow is beautiful.” You become tough in time but you should have a soft part and open your eyes and ears. You can work with good people and hear your customers and make them happy, which will enrich your life life. Every happy ending come out from miserable beginnings."

"If you want to be a good entrepreneur learn from those mistakes, focus on failure examples of other successful people rather than their success stories, like his own (he got rejected from Harvard University three times). You learn not how to not have failure but how to deal with it. You should not become infected with pessimism; you have the whole world in front of you. If you fear failure you can never succeed. Also, he believes that you shouldn’t expect people to support you and understand you at the beginning."

"Overall, one of the secret of Alibaba was that 50% of his management comprised of women. It is not a competition of muscles but of the brain: user-friendliness that women can do much better. Who cares about others better and are more empathetic? Women care for the family, jobs and other people and the people want to be cared about."

A second student, Youssef Awad (pictured outside the UN and meeting Mr. Ma) wrote:

"I was very thrilled and honored to have participated to the event concerning E-Commerce Youth Entrepreneurship week. It was a very interactive event where I was able to send my question to the UNCTAD team who were able to present it to Jack Ma during the event. The question was prepared with the help of Dr. Rouben Indjikian, Professor of Trade Finance, who developed E-Commerce program of UNCTAD during the years 1999 to 2008 and initiated Annual Information Economy Report.

After the meeting with Mr. Jack Ma and Mr. Kituyi, I was happy to participate at a small workshop with students where we discussed about some topics asked during the event, such as:

1. What are the actions that policy-makers need to urgently take to respond to the demands of the global workforce in the digital economy.

2. What are the skills that we need to adapt to this changing landscape?

3. What is the role of the private sector in youth employment?

I was very delighted to meet many students from different universities including the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and the University of Geneva. It was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from peers. I am pleased to share some interesting quotes said by Jack Ma during this event:

'' People below thirty-years old know internet and they are brave; they want to embrace change with technology.'' - Jack Ma

''China online payments and mobile payments are much more sophisticated than in the USA." - Jack Ma

" Many people complain and worry. Do not complain and do not worry." -Jack Ma