Business

Pargo scores SA first at Alibaba e-commerce initiative

Pargo co-founders Derk Hoekert and Lars Veul.
Pargo co-founders Derk Hoekert and Lars Veul.

Cape Town-based high-tech logistics company Pargo has been selected as the first South African delegate to join Alibaba's eFounders Initiative Entrepreneurship Training Programme.

Titled "Shaping Champions for the New Economy", the programme is hosted by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in the city of Hangzhou.

It is organised jointly by the Alibaba Group and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and will explore the opportunity to effectively advance and develop an e-commerce ecosystem in Africa.

Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma announced the initiative during a recent visit to Rwanda and Kenya.

Pargo is a start-up company that solves the challenges of last mile logistics to enable e-commerce in emerging economies to reach every consumer in an efficient and cost-effective manner. By using an extensive network of Pargo parcel points where people can send and receive parcels, the company bridges the gap between online and offline commerce.

Ma, who also advises the UNCTAD on small business and young entrepreneurs, is a big believer in using e-commerce to drive development on the African continent and that the Internet should be a utility available to the whole world.

During his trip, Ma pledged to support domestic and cross-border e-commerce and work with African universities, governments and entrepreneurs to develop training programmes in areas such as e-commerce, artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing.

The eFounders Initiative Entrepreneurship Training Programme includes a two-week course at the Alibaba Business School and will take the 25 high-potential entrepreneurs from across Africa to learn from e-commerce giants Alibaba, Taobao.com and Tmall.com.

"It's a privilege to be selected as the first South African company for this prestigious programme," says Lars Veul, director and co-founder at Pargo.

"The e-commerce ecosystem in South Africa has seen significant growth over the last years. Although last mile logistics remains one of the key challenges that we are solving, there are still many more challenges we need to deal with collectively."

He adds that to be recognised by an industry leader like Alibaba will without a doubt have a major impact on Pargo and open opportunities for the company to enable more international partners to access SA and other emerging economies.

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