Alibaba Cloud, the data intelligence backbone of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has launched a US$30 million programme to provide cloud technology relief to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as the global economy takes a huge hit from the coronavirus pandemic . A support package of 12 key products will be open for application between Thursday and June 22 for new SMEs customers worldwide. Successful applicants will receive free cloud services for a limited period of time. The package includes the company’s Elastic Compute Service, which powers cloud applications with low latency, the Object Storage Service, which offers encrypted data storage and backup in the cloud, as well as security products and Alibaba’s Web Application Firewall, according to a company statement on Thursday. Alibaba’s existing SME customers will also receive product coupons to help them expand or upgrade their cloud applications, the company said, adding that it will also reach out to SME associations to help meet their members’ technology needs as they fight the pandemic. “Covid-19 has created unprecedented challenges and vulnerabilities to the global economy and especially for SMEs, who are often faced with financial constraints and limited access to technological support,” said Selina Yuan, president of international business at Alibaba Cloud Intelligence. Alibaba to invest extra 200 billion yuan in cloud to boost digital change “[This programme ] aims to provide much needed, timely relief to SMEs so they can rapidly respond to the current crisis while speeding up their digital transformation and emerging from the current pandemic stronger and more resilient.” The move came after Alibaba Cloud announced on Monday it would invest an extra 200 billion yuan (US$28.2 billion) over the next three years on cloud infrastructure to help speed up the digital transformation of businesses in China following the Covid-19 pandemic . Alibaba is not the first Chinese tech giant to offer help to smaller businesses. In February, Beijing-based JD.com said it would allocate nearly 500 million yuan to support SMEs using its e-commerce, logistics, financial, cloud and AI resources. Cloud computing has become one of Alibaba’s fastest-growing sectors beyond its core e-commerce business. In the quarter ended December 31, cloud computing revenue grew 62 per cent to 10.7 billion yuan, the first time it has surpassed 10 billion yuan in quarterly revenue. Alibaba Cloud is the leading cloud service provider in China, accounting for 46.1 per cent of the Chinese market in 2019, followed by Tencent Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Baidu AI Cloud, according to a report published in March by research firm Canalys. Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post .