Goal of the Project - Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship
Launched in 2015, the biennial Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship aims to create a conversation among women on empowerment and personal fulfillment as entrepreneurs, as leaders, as policy-makers, and as role models for future generations. With the theme #TheWorldSheMade, this year's Conference was a salute to women whose courage to disrupt the social norm and shatter traditional roles is reshaping the world.
About The Project - #TheWorldSheMade
Alibaba Group is driven by its mission to “make it easy to do business anywhere” and by anyone, female and male. Leverage on the power of the Internet, it helps to level the playing field, supporting women to pursue dreams and flourish in their own way.
Nearly half of the stores on Alibaba’s marketplaces are owned or controlled by women. Alibaba has also presented opportunities for women from different walks of life. More than 60,000 women with physical disabilities opened stores on Taobao last year, generating more than RMB4.4billion in sales. There were 1.38 million female entrepreneurs aged 55 or above and female sellers from impoverished countries sold goods valued at RMB 13.2 billion in 2018 on Alibaba platforms.
Joined by Alibaba Group founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma and other prominent women leaders such as Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Undersecretary and Executive Director of UN Women, and Tomomi Inada, a member of the Japanese Parliament. This year’s theme – #TheWorldSheMade – spotlighted the positive changes the world has seen and will experience, thanks to the female trailblazers who dared to break the glass ceiling.
For the first time, the Conference occurred at four locations – Hangzhou, Jakarta, Sydney and Tokyo – to allow participants to hold deep-dive discussions on issues and progress particular to their region and culture.
In a video message, Gates drove home the message that investing in women’s economic empowerment, including entrepreneurship is “not only the right thing to do, but smart thing to do,” emphasizing the global economy could gain $28 trillion by 2025 if women participated in the labor force in the same degree as men.
“When we remove the barriers that prevent women from participating in the economy, the benefits don’t extend just to the women themselves. They extend to families, communities, even entire countries,” said Gates.
Global pop sensation Rihanna, whose Fenty Beauty brand has disrupted the global cosmetic industry, in a video message, encouraged all females to believe in themselves, work hard and pursue their dreams unapologetically.
“Making my dreams a reality, it started with just a lot of faith. I’ve always believed that it would happen no matter what. I just didn’t know how I would get there but I believe that it would happen one day,” she said. “Once I got opportunity, I didn’t squander it.”
Japanese Parliament member Tomomi Inada led a group of female politicians joining the Hangzhou event, and offered a deep-dive discussion on gender issues and progress in her culture.
“In the political world, I have always believed that men and women should be promoted solely based on their ability,” said Inada. “That is true in a sense. However, this year marks my fifteenth year as a politician, and I have come to feel that ability alone is not enough to help women advance in the political field. That's why I set up a parliamentary association with my friends (to promote this idea).”
During the Conference, several successful Chinese female start-up leaders shared what inspired them to start their own business, what challenges they faced and how they overcame those hurdles.
One of them was Chen Yan. Born with congenital blindness, Chen was abandoned by her parents and only lived because her grandmother took her in. As a little girl, Chen demonstrated a penchant for music. Despite not being able to read music, Chen excelled on several instruments and later became the country’s first blind piano tuner, without ever laying an eye on any of the 8,000-plus components of a piano.
Notwithstanding the naysayers, Chen started her own piano-tuning business in 2004. Eleven years later, Chen challenged social norms again, opening her own piano tuning service shop on Taobao. Now, her Taboao store serves thousands of customers all around the country.
To promote the Conference, Alibaba has launched a brand campaign called “Watch out for this woman.” A theme video was published online in multiple social media platforms in China and worldwide. The video captures stories of female leaders who are breaking stereotypes, overcoming challenges and re-defining the role of women. The video hit more than one million views on Alibaba’s official Weibo account in last than 24 hours after publishing.
Alibaba has made, and will continue to make, strides in promoting gender equality. One-third of Alibaba Group founders are women, along with one-third of the Group’s executive leadership and one-third of the partners who make key decisions about and for the Group.