Jack Ma: Saviour of Malaysian SMEs?
Lim Teck Ghee | 11 Aug 2017 00:30
For some time now, Jack Ma has been pushing the mantra of small businesses taking over the markets of the world and driving the greater globalisation of the world’s business. Because he is who he is – the founder of Chinese online retail giant Alibaba – his pitch has resonated widely, including among politicians.

Alibaba became the world’s largest retailer in April last year with operations in over 200 countries. It is also one of the world’s largest internet companies.

Ma does speak from personal experience. Alibaba, since its founding in 1999, has had a meteoric rise. In the United States, it has been generating more gross merchandise volume than Amazon and eBay combined. Its online sales and profits have surpassed that of all US retailers (including Walmart, Amazon and eBay) combined since 2015.

Today, Alibaba’s market capitalisation on the New York stock exchange is close to US$400 bil (RM1.71 tril) and it is ranked seventh among the largest companies by that measure. The company also recently reported sales growth forecast which topped every analyst’s estimate.

When he came to Malaysia to launch the country’s digital free trade zone (DFTZ) in late March, it was immediately hailed by the media as a coup for the country’s economy and leadership. Indeed, the expectations for the country’s partnership with Alibaba appear to be tantalising, if not mind-blowing.

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