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The 'Dao’ of Alibaba - 2

April 13, 2019


     In the eyes of the world, this is Alibaba Mission. 

    However such definition in English is too simple, and cannot explain of our Chinese Ancestor broad and profound meaning of (道) 


    This is a story of DAO, also my first blog in Mandarin. 


    Since primary, I received my education from Malaysia National School as my parents hoped that it helped make my English better. The school did not teach Mandarin, and I have no homework pressure to learn. 


     However, as I was upset with my elder brother (He went to a Chinese Medium Primary School) not translating a popular Chinese comic “LaoFuZhi", I started to learn basic Mandarin from my parents. In reflection, I need to thank him for that. 


    After that, I was obsessed with Kungfu Novel。 At the start, it was challenging for me. I couldn't understand 8 words out of 10. So I had to check dictionary or ask others every day. Now I can recognize and understand most of the word, but I can't write too many words. 
I do not have the opportunity to receive Chinese education when I was young. I never thought that when I am 40+ over, I will step foot on a Chinese School.


And the school I got accepted is the well known Alibaba Business School.

Thus everything is possible in this ironic and funny world. 


It is a strange fate, as I am one of a kind, a strange one among the participants. 


Why did I apply?


     Most eCommerce business in small town had limited resources and exposure. Thus they can only explore eCommerce in a limited way, and the returns are slow. Some of the business will engage 'expert' and spent much money, yet the result is far from expectation. Then these businesses will lose trust and believe eCommerce is a wastage of resources. 


    Thus I left Huawei, and return to Ipoh to start KK ECOMMERCE. KK= KITA KONGSI. As the name, our objective is to help small-town Business resolve the problems in eCommerce.

     When I read the NETPRENEUR program, there was this "Little White Cow" (Xiaobainiu) business case. This attracted me to apply.The village of "Little White Cow" is China role model. They are doing very well in eCommerce, selling the local village products directly to the consumer. It increased the village revenue and improved its economy. In 2018, their combined income for this village is 350 million CNY.


    Such is very close to KK objective, and thus in thick face mode, I apply for this program.


    During the selection interview, I honestly explain KK community objectives. At that time, I was doubtful of the chances, because KK is just a small startup, with few of my partners running it. Yet, three weeks later, I received the application approved email. I was so happy and jumped with excitement, and couldn't sleep for the whole night!


   Full of anticipation, I came to Hangzhou and enrolled in Alibaba Business School. In these 2 weeks, I was humbled by the participants. One of them is in the progress of IPO and another who is just 25 years old, had an eCommerce business with monthly revenue more than a million.


At times, I wonder why I am also one of the participants of this program. 

     During self-introduction, I honestly explained that KK wants to help small businesses who only have limited resources and couldn't engage experts to resolve their roadblocks. Those are the people who need help 


    Sounds noble, but also cheesy and unrealistic. 


     When my fellow students ask about KK business and profit model, I was not able to explain it clearly. I, myself are still trying to find the way. Some of the students think I am holding back. Actually, I did not want to hide my weakness and lie to them, as it is a special opportunity or us to be together for two weeks. 
The first 3 days has been blog below:


    Although the first 3 days were fascinating, it is about large companies. It couldn't reach my heart. I want to see how small business in a small town make it.  Small is Beautiful. Small is Powerful.


     What comes after make me realize why fate arranged me to have the opportunity to join the program.

     It started with Jing talk which touched me deeply. She explained how Ant financial helped a youth in Tibet to built his business. The business is very simple, providing smartphone charging services in remote highland. As it is far away from civilization, it is hard to move money. However, with Alipay, this roadblock was resolved and all the transaction is recorded. After a period of time when the youth need further funds to expand the business, his Alipay data supported him to qualified for micro-loans.

     Jing is a very grounded person and simple in appearance, yet her talk carried a lot of substance. After that, we are separated into small group discussions, and I selected her group. We have the chance to know each other more and I found out she actually was from US Wallstreet. She joined Alibaba with the same objectives, to do something meaningful. I am very grateful for her encouragement. 

    In the following day, we finally visited Xiaobainu village. When we stepped down from the bus, most of us enjoyed the simple yet beautiful China Village views. Then we were amazed by the eCommerce business in the village. There are actually thousands of villages in China trying to emulate this model. eCommerce actually increases rural area income, and attracted young generation to "Balik Kampung Tanam Jagung"!


    Rural area eCommerce development is real and had been proven highly possible!


    It seems that KK has a clearer road in front of us. Thus during the reflection session after the visit, I was full of emotion, and could not continue during halfway of my speech. I am that kind of silly blogger 


    While I am enthusiastic, I felt worried also. Can Malaysia do it? What can a small community like KK contribute? Can we overcome racial barriers. When will big data come to Malaysia to empower rural areas?


     How can we continue this journey?

      I had an indirect answer to this during the second week. Ali Business school invited their deputy dean, Yuyan to share and explain in detail of the below sentence. 



    It is an electrifying moment when I understand this sentence, really. This is the DAO of Alibaba. Dao is something that looks simple in one sentence, yet if you dig deeper, it had a profound and wide scope of meanings

   Thus it depends on individual awareness and understanding. We only can experience it fully when we were there with teacher Yuyan, and it is hard to explain this in detail.


     All the challenges faced by Alibaba inclusive of SARS, was to allow Alibaba People to discovered their inner truth. In the most challenging and critical time, only a company will reveal it true self.  Many companies preached mission and good values, but it was for marketing only. When profits opportunity is there, it will be forgotten. This is fake DAO.

Only when a company embrace their mission, culture and values, then their action will reflect their believes, and they will continue to stay true to it. That is the true DAO. 


     Why Alibaba collaborate with so many stakeholders for rural area eCommerce development? It is very hard. Some people believe it is all about profit. 


    For me personally, I think Alibaba started this without much thought on profit. They are simply trying to fulfill their Mission below when they can.


    I hope that Alibaba will never leave this DAO forever.