By Daniella Bien-Aime

Daniella Bien-Aime is the founder of the Bien-Aime Post, a digital platform that focuses on business, leadership, education, and social media, within the context of the Haitian diaspora and Haiti.  Follow her on Twitter @dbienaime.


Does it seem difficult to succeed in business because you think like an outsider? Do you reduce your talent by believing that unless you have the right connections, speak the right language, and look like mainstream America, that you won’t make it?

There are members of the Haitian diaspora who may have an idea, but think that they have no support, or are struggling to connect with other potential partners. These individuals can learn a great deal from Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, rags-to-riches story. He is proof that perseverance pays off. In 15 years he not only found success, but helped shaped China’s business landscape.

So, if you’re a member of the Diaspora and are in the process of either starting a business or putting your idea into action, take a look below at the five lessons from Ma that can inspire you to take a leap of faith.

Be Passionate about Finding Solutions

Ma became successful by finding a solution to a problem he had. He was unable to use the Internet to find certain products in China. He created Alibaba to solve that problem. In an interview, Ma asserted, “What is important in my life is influencing many people as well as China’s development.”

Action, Drive, and Smarts Are More Important than Academic Credentials and Job Title

As one reads Ma’s academic background and career path, it’s evident that he was not an MBA working in information technology or in the field of finance. He was a teacher and a tour guide in China, but was still able to build a billion-dollar company.

The next time you feel insecure about your background, please remember that ambition and a hunger for learning are more important than degrees.

Focus on Becoming a Disrupter

There are approximately seven billion people in the world, and most of them have problems to solve. Start paying attention to how you can solve their problems. There are some problems that only you can solve, with the help of your community.

Neil Gough and Alexandra Stevenson from The New York Times wrote, “Ma has proved to be a serial disruptor – an outsider with a knack for creating new markets by reimagining old industries like retailing or finance.”

If you’re unsure about how to become a disruptor, read Alex Pentland’s Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World. The more of an outsider you are, the more leverage you have to succeed.

Inclusivity and Generosity Are Smart Business Strategies

Ma’s initial idea was to include as many friends and family members in his business vision. Those who believed in him are also financially independent, and had the same interest in changing the lives of other Chinese men and women.

According to Gough and Stevenson, “Mr. Ma wasn’t the type of person who would start a business and then keep 90 percent of the equity for himself.” Besides, Gough and Stevenson pointed out, “In the earlier days, when Alibaba was first forming, he was giving equity to all of the high school students who were working with him.”

The lesson here is that one successful business has the power to change more lives than charity can.

Focus on Building Global Leaders

According to Alibaba’s mission statement, global leaders matter.  Ma’s strengths are his ability to think strategically and to train and hire global leaders. Creating a billion-dollar company takes focus and a dedicated team of exceptional leaders. He believes that Alibaba can “compete internationally and across sectors, and intends to serve the American, European and emerging markets.”

As China continues to flex its economic muscles as a global power, more Jack Mas will step onto the international stage. People like him are being born every day around the world, including Haiti, the Caribbean and the diaspora. Let  Ma’s story move you to make something happen.

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