Jack Ma Yun, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, has been named special adviser on youth entrepreneurship and small business to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad). The appointment, which was announced in Geneva on Tuesday, followed Ma’s recent stint as chairman of the small business development task force advising the G20. In a statement, Unctad Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said Ma “brings a visionary approach to entrepreneurship, a thirst for learning, and a belief in a better world that make him a perfect match for Unctad”. “Together we will be able to reach out to communities that feel left behind in today’s global landscape with a message of hope and self-empowerment,” Kituyi said. As special adviser, Ma will spearhead initiatives to make it easier for young entrepreneurs and small businesses, particularly in developing countries, to participate in global trade, as well as raise awareness for the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had earlier named Ma a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate in January. Ma’s extensive work with entrepreneurs in China will serve him well as a special adviser at Unctad, an agency that works with governments in developing nations to help small companies and young entrepreneurs do business worldwide. “I have spent my career working with entrepreneurs and know the positive social and economic impact when people are given the opportunity to participate in the global economy,” Ma said. At the G20 summit held in Hangzhou earlier this month, Ma proposed to strengthen digital trade through an initiative called the Electronic World Trade Platform, a way to bring more small and medium-sized enterprises into the global economy. Ma established Alibaba in 1999 to provide a vast online marketplace for merchants, brands and other businesses in mainland China to engage with consumers. There are now more than 10 million small businesses in China which operate on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms, which include consumer-to-consumer site Taobao Marketplace, business-to-consumer platform Tmall .com and group-buying service Juhuasuan. Hangzhou-based Alibaba is now the world’s largest e-commerce services provider. In 2014, the firm was listed in New York in the biggest initial public offering in history. Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post.