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Your Alibaba Online Gold Mine

[ 0 ] Jun. 25, 2012 | SBO Editor

U.S. women entrepreneurs lead the global e-Commerce marketplace.

To mark National Women’s History Month in March, Alibaba.com, one of the world’s largest business-to-business (B2B) online e-commerce marketplaces, released site data showing that 1.1 million U.S. women are at the forefront of a surge of female entrepreneurs who are doing business globally.

The number of U.S.-based women using the Alibaba.com online marketplace increased by 72% between 2008 and 2011. Alibaba.com data shows that 1.1 million Alibaba.com entrepreneurs in the U.S. are women – higher than any other country – and they are leading the way in leveraging global sourcing opportunities to grow their businesses. (The U.S. total – 1.1 million – surpassed the U.K., where 261,000 women are Alibaba.com members, and third-placed India where there are 168,000 female registered users.)

As evident from Alibaba.com’s research, women entrepreneurs are grabbing global trading business opportunities made possible by the advent of e-commerce. With e-commerce tools like Alibaba.com, women can start their businesses with lower startup costs and reach a larger market.

“Entrepreneurs drive America’s economy and Alibaba.com is a great resource for many female entrepreneurs. The platform provides a one-stop-shop for them to find a huge variety of products from our 2.2 million supplier storefronts. They reduce their costs by working with the suppliers directly and cutting out the middleman, and create original products by using our new services such as the Customized Sourcing service,” says Linda Kozlowski, Director, Global Marketing and Customer Experience, Alibaba.com.

A lot of companies that do business around the world are being watched for their efforts to achieve corporate social responsibility. According to Alibaba.com, “Social responsibility is an integral part of the Alibaba.com business model. Our mission is to help boost the long-term competitiveness of small companies, and realization of this mission has resulted in job creation and grassroots economic development for millions of people around the world. We contribute to the welfare of the global community in other ways as well, including providing disaster relief; environmental protection initiatives and providing opportunities for our employees to individually give back to society.”

Supporting the Financial Needs of Small Businesses

Small companies are the principal engines of economic growth, yet they also face the greatest challenges in securing capital for business growth. Alibaba.com is playing an important role in helping entrepreneurs in China and around the world overcome obstacles and join the ranks of successful global traders. Says Alibaba.com, “For instance, in cooperation with China’s leading banks, we continue to grow our Ali-Loan program, which helps lenders assess the creditworthiness of Alibaba.com customers based on their trade activities and trust rating on our online marketplace. The program has generated more than RMB20 billion in small-business loans since its inception in 2007.”

Promoting Global Business Dialogue

Each year, Alibaba.com’s parent company, Alibaba Group, co-hosts the annual e-commerce summit, AliFest, in Hangzhou, China in association with the Hangzhou municipal government. Thousands of netrepeneurs (short for “Internet entrepreneurs”) attend the event to exchange ideas and learn from the experiences of global thought leaders. The event culminates in an award ceremony, in which the Top 10 e-Businessmen are recognized for their contributions to e-commerce and the community. Past keynote speakers have included former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and eBay president and CEO John Donahoe.

Encouraging Community Service

Alibaba.com encourages and creates opportunities for employees to actively participate in community service and philanthropic programs. For example, after the devastating Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, several teams of staff volunteers made numerous trips to Sichuan to provide immediate emergency earthquake relief.

An initiative to provide long-term support for post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation was also established, and remains very active to this day. Part of this program included providing e-commerce training to help local merchants revive their livelihoods and the local economy. As recognition of our other volunteer efforts, the Hong Kong Council of Social Services named Alibaba.com a Caring Company for 2009/2010.

Protecting the Environment

According to Alibaba.com, “Our approach to preserving the planet is two-pronged: not only do we control waste within the company through recycling and conservation efforts, we also mobilize our resources to cultivate environmental awareness in society.

“Among other activities, employees at our Hangzhou corporate campus pioneered hands-on local green efforts such as tree planting. We also acted as a responsible e-commerce platform operator by banning all product postings related to shark’s fins, bear bile as well as cat and dog fur and meat on our marketplaces. In May 2010, Alibaba.com, along with Alibaba Group and its other subsidiaries, announced that it will begin in 2010 to earmark 0.3 percent of annual revenues to fund efforts designed to spur environmental awareness and conservation in China and around the world.”

About Alibaba.com LimitedAlibaba.com (HKSE: 1688) (1688.HK) is the global leader in e-commerce for small businesses and the flagship company of Alibaba.com Group. Founded in 1999 in Hangzhou, China, Alibaba.com makes it easy for millions of buyers and suppliers around the world to do business online mainly through three marketplaces: a global trade platform (http://WWW.ALIBABA.COM) for importers and exporters; a Chinese platform (www.1688.com) for domestic trade in China; and a transaction-based wholesale platform on the global site (www.aliexpress.com) geared for smaller buyers seeking fast shipment of small quantities of goods.

Case Study 1:

No Shoe Order Too Small

When Katie Shea and Susie Levitt wanted to find footwear manufacturers for their innovative CitySlips™ – foldable ballet flats for when women need to ditch the high heels – they quickly sourced a supplier through Alibaba.com that was happy to make small quantities of their prototype.

Their New York-based startup, FUNK-tional Footwear developed a product that addressed the needs of women everywhere…all from their dorm room at NYU.

Katie and Susie started searching for footwear manufacturers on Alibaba.com in 2008 and began prototyping their product soon after. They looked into pricing and also researched who could fill their small quantity request. “Once we found the right manufacturer, we had a thousand pairs of shoes made and delivered to my parent’s garage on Long Island,” says Katie. “The dorm room wasn’t big enough, so that essentially became our first distribution center!”

Katie and Susie reached $1M in sales in their first year of business. Today, their bestsellers are sold at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Dillard’s, DSW, Bed Bath & Beyond, ShopNBC, and hundreds of specialty retailers.

Case Study 2:

A Fresh Take on Cost Savings

Jacqui Rosshandler is the creator of Eatwhatever®, a breath freshener that is vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and fat-free and works from within to provide real fresh breath – even after eating onions or garlic. Rosshandler used Alibaba.com to source suppliers in the U.S. to create packaging that clearly and simply shows customers how to use the innovative dual-action breath freshener.

Rosshandler started her business using Alibaba.com. “The factories want your business. When you send them a design, they send back the product quickly. They don’t waste time, which is very refreshing,” says Rosshandler. “Using the contacts I found through Alibaba.com, we saved so much time and money developing new products and packaging.”

See Jacqui’s story at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCWRIzdFMSM&list=PLA4A78FBC902082C7&index=4&feature=plpp_video

Case Study 3:

Pure Success Leads to Job Creation

Many of these female entrepreneurs are also creating jobs on U.S. soil. Take Susie Wang, Co-Founder of cosmetics company 100% Pure™, who has over 50 employees across her factory and stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, and sources over 10,000 ingredients from dozens of countries using Alibaba.com

Using Alibaba.com, 100% Pure has been able to source Lingonberries from Sweden, Argan Oil from Morocco, and Green Tea from Japan. The green company was also able to customize its packaging by sourcing post-consumer recycled soda cans, bamboo pulp and other environmentally friendly materials through Alibaba.com.

“Alibaba.com provides a vital tool to connect us with suppliers,” says Wang. “We are able to source what we need, keep our pricing down and use our market share to create U.S.-based jobs.”

See Susie’s story at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfCqdd6nFHE&list=HL1329415073&feature=mh_lolz

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Category: Magazine, Start Your Own Business, Start Your Own Business Fall 2012