Technology helping China win friends and influence people

Participants at Ant Financial's Tech Innovator Workshop in Hangzhou two weeks ago. Ant Financial is the fintech affiliate of Alibaba. Ms Utari Octavianty at Freshippo, Alibaba's robot-driven supermarket, in Hangzhou, on Aug 28, under the Tech for Inc
Participants at Ant Financial's Tech Innovator Workshop in Hangzhou two weeks ago. Ant Financial is the fintech affiliate of Alibaba.ST PHOTO: LIM YAN LIANG
Ms Utari Octavianty at Freshippo, Alibaba's robot-driven supermarket, in Hangzhou, on Aug 28, under the Tech for Inclusion workshop. She is interested in the seafood supply chain as she is the co-founder of Aruna, an Indonesian fisheries e-commerce start-
Ms Utari Octavianty at Freshippo, Alibaba's robot-driven supermarket, in Hangzhou, on Aug 28, under the Tech for Inclusion workshop. She is interested in the seafood supply chain as she is the co-founder of Aruna, an Indonesian fisheries e-commerce start-up. Aruna shot to prominence after winning a "tech for good" contest in Singapore co-organised by NUS Enterprise and Alipay. ST PHOTO: LIM YAN LIANG

Giants like Alibaba stepping up their outreach to groom tech and start-up talent worldwide

When fresh graduate Utari Octavianty decided to start an e-commerce business with her college friends in 2015, her business goals were decidedly modest.

By matching fishermen with buyers and cutting out the middleman, Ms Utari hoped to boost the meagre takings of those like her uncle in their kampung in Balikpapan on the east coast of Borneo in Indonesia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 08, 2019, with the headline 'Technology helping China win friends and influence people'. Print Edition | Subscribe