Transforming humanity through innovation

Technology-focused entrepreneurs are on the cusp of unprecedented breakthroughs that could allow them to positively impact humanity in a way never seen before.


Today’s emerging technologies allow for more visionary and innovative businesses that change lives. Alibaba, one of the world’s largest tech companies, embraces this notion. Through its #TechforChange initiative, Alibaba Cloud, which provides cloud infrastructure to digitally transform businesses, is calling for inspiring ideas and joint efforts to tackle critical global social and humanitarian challenges in areas like education, economic development and the environment.

Start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises and individuals – especially young people and women – have an unprecedented opportunity to harness technology to make the world better. Alibaba is providing the access, knowledge, tools and the stage for these changes to happen.

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Alibaba Cloud’s hope and expectation is that with its support and advocacy, #TechForChange will inspire innovation and positively impact people’s lives. These are the stories of three people who have done just that.

From trafficking victim to technology pioneer

Mariéme Jamme is not just one of the most influential women in the world today, she’s also one of the most inspiring.

Jamme, now a British citizen, was once a human trafficking victim smuggled from her home in Sénégal to Paris when she was young. She never had a formal education but taught herself to read and write as a teenager. Later she took on computer programming by learning seven different coding languages at her kitchen table in Surrey.

Mariéme Jamme

Today, she’s an award-winning technologist, a pioneer in system change and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader among a list of other accolades. She was the first black woman to win Unicef’s Innovation Award, she was one of BBC’s 100 UK Power Women, the first Senegalese woman to make it to the North Pole and a board member of the World Wide Web Foundation.

A fierce advocate of gender and digital equality, Jamme is launching iamtheCODE, a global education initiative that aims to teach one million girls and women to code by 2030.

Jamme, renowned for her pioneering initiatives that change the lives of women and girls around the world, is working with the private sector, government and philanthropic foundations to advance her iamtheCODE mission to tackle the current STEAMED (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Entrepreneurship, Design) skills shortage in marginalized communities around the world.

iamtheCODE is partnering with Alibaba Cloud Academy, which offers free infrastructure, products and online courses on cloud computing and AI for young female entrepreneurs.

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“If we educate our people about technological innovation and social networks, at least they can have an understanding. That’s why iamtheCODE is so important,” Jamme said in an interview with China-based media outlet, Radii.

We can educate people, advise governments, and the private sector and investors, and multiple stakeholders can get involved in building capacity, in really empowering the marginalized communities - Mariéme Jamme

Early education transformed through robots

U.S.-based entrepreneur Elnaz Sarraf is an Iranian immigrant and a rare woman in the male-dominated tech sector.

She is also a highly successful serial entrepreneur who was Nasdaq’s Entrepreneurial Center Milestone Maker for 2018, the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Woman of Influence in 2016 and Silicon Valley Entrepreneur of The Year, also in 2016. While leading over 45 employees globally, she has launched six different products in the IoT space.

Little robots

For years, Sarraf wondered why children were still being taught using methods from their grandparents’ era, despite being surrounded by today’s advanced technology. The education of young people has long been her passion. More recently, it also offered an opportunity to change at least part of the world with the introduction of robotics into early education.

In 2017, Sarraf founded ROYBI, a robotics company focused on improving early childhood education through cutting-edge deep learning technology and exceptional user experiences.

Our company is ready to change the way kids learn at home, in schools and in learning centers – Elnaz Sarraf

Using Alibaba Cloud’s infrastructure to power her business system and website – cloud computing accelerates network speed and lowers the cost of building IT systems –Sarraf has created Artificial Intelligence (AI) robots to work with children aged three to seven by creating lessons that reflect the natural way children learn.

The AI collects age-appropriate language data from a variety of languages, across multiple contexts and settings. This data then provides developmental-based input, and personalized educational experiences, for children, and tracks their progress.

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Diagnosis simulator: a cure for rural healthcare woes

CureFun aims to bolster China’s medical education. Established by Wenting He and Cheng Zeng, CureFun leverages Alibaba Cloud’s machine learning and big data capabilities to create virtual patients for doctors and medical students, improving their clinical reasoning and critical-thinking skills.

The company has created a mobile app which allows users to practice their skills; inquiring about virtual patients' medical history, conducting physical and auxiliary examinations and, making diagnostic and treatment decisions. CureFun includes at least 3,000 virtual patients and over 300 different diseases, covering the most common clinical illnesses.

Ladies talking

Using cloud infrastructure, content delivery networks (CDNs) and big data is crucial to CureFun’s operations, allowing the company to compute, store and transfer doctors’ diagnoses and medical data, while keeping its app safe and stable.

This has allowed CureFun to become a valuable tool for students and doctors in hundreds of hospitals and medical schools across 20 provinces in China for teaching, studying, practice, testing and evaluation.

The CureFun founders’ dream is to build the capability of medical practitioners across different areas, bridging China’s healthcare education gap in rural or remote areas, and eventually in other developing countries around the world. The app makes valuable educational and training tools accessible to any user across the country.

Making the world a better place

As humans in 2019, we are experiencing a life-changing digital revolution that will profoundly affect how we live our lives in the coming centuries. And yet, we have still not solved some of the most fundamentally important problems facing mankind, such as environmental and humanitarian crises and major social challenges, including poverty and illiteracy.

There are those who dream of harnessing revolutionary technology to solve these age-old problems and make the world fairer and better for all. It’s easy to dismiss their vision as impractical, but those who understand modern technology can make even their wildest dreams come true. They are the ones who are proudly pushing forward with #TechForChange.

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