E-com­merce helps lo­cal gov­ern­ments to tackle poverty is­sues

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD INTERNET CONFERENCE - By CANG WEI in Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang cang­wei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Lo­cal gov­ern­ments and e-com­merce com­pa­nies are work­ing to­gether to help peo­ple liv­ing in poverty-stricken areas to sell their prod­ucts on­line and im­prove their qual­ity of life.

Suzhou in East China’s Jiangsu prov­ince has in­vested 120 mil­lion yuan ($17.3 mil­lion) to es­tab­lish an e-com­merce park in Ton­gren in South­west China’s Guizhou prov­ince.

By Oc­to­ber, the park had at­tracted 22 e-com­merce com­pa­nies and had helped 145 farm­ers and their fam­i­lies to set up on­line stores. The stores re­ported 85.6 mil­lion yuan in sales in 2017, up 473 per­cent year-on-year.

Yang Liang, deputy di­rec­tor of Suzhou’s high-tech devel­op­ment dis­trict, said that from Jan­uary to Septem­ber this year, the farm­ers’ on­line stores sold 160 met­ric tons of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts — in­clud­ing mush­rooms, sweet po­ta­toes and bam­boo shoots — with sales reach­ing 5.76 mil­lion yuan.

“We also help lo­cal farm­ers to sell their hand­i­crafts prod­ucts on­line,” Yang said. “The stores have sold about 200 items ev­ery day since launch­ing in Fe­bru­ary 2017. Their sales sur­pass 3 mil­lion yuan a month.”

“Now more than 10,000 peo­ple or­der the hand­i­crafts and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts from stores re­lated to the e-com­merce park ev­ery day. The ini­tia­tive has greatly im­proved the lo­cal farm­ers’ lives.”

In­ter­net gi­ant Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd es­tab­lished a poverty re­lief fund in De­cem­ber 2017, an­nounc­ing it would also in­vest 10 bil­lion yuan ($1.44 bil­lion) to in­te­grate in­ter­net func­tion­al­ity into poverty re­lief work.

Sun Li­jun, a part­ner at Alibaba and ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary of the fund, said the com­pany is work­ing with the gov­ern­ment of Dang­shan county in East China’s An­hui prov­ince to help sell lo­cal pear prod­ucts.

Alibaba uses its on­line plat­form to pub­li­cize the prod­ucts, and helps the pear fac­to­ries to up­grade their tech­nolo­gies Ex­perts and to de­sign more fash­ion­able prod­uct pack­ag­ing.

“We will hold a poverty re­lief con­fer­ence in Jan­uary to in­tro­duce our work, which com­bines the in­ter­net with poverty re­lief,” Sun said. “It can be a sus­tain­able and highly ef­fec­tive model for tack­ling poverty.”

By Au­gust, Alibaba had co­op­er­ated with 113 pover­tys­tricken coun­ties in 16 provinces across the coun­try. It also plans to use the up­com­ing Sin­gles Day na­tional shop­ping frenzy on Nov 11 to pub­li­cize and pro­mote prod­ucts from the poverty-stricken coun­ties.

Huang Zheng, founder of on­line dis­counter Pin­duo­duo, said that the com­pany will send more than 50,000 work­ers to ru­ral areas within three years to help 100,000 on­line store own­ers in 679 pover­tys­tricken areas.

“Pin­duo­duo has been work­ing with Shang­hai’s poverty alle­vi­a­tion of­fice to co­op­er­ate with 12 pro­vin­cial-level re­gions, in­clud­ing Yun­nan prov­ince, and the Xin­jiang Uygur and Ti­bet au­tonomous re­gions, to sell their agri­cul­tural prod­ucts on­line.”

“With the help of lo­cal gov­ern­ments and Pin­duo­duo, many agri­cul­tural areas have es­tab­lished mod­ern lo­gis­tics and pro­duc­tion sys­tems,” Huang said. “The sys­tems also bring jobs to more than 7 mil­lion peo­ple.”

Wang Xingzui, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of the China Foun­da­tion for Poverty Alle­vi­a­tion, said that mo­bile plat­forms are in­dis­pens­able for China’s bat­tle against poverty.

“The in­ter­net is chang­ing the tra­di­tional method of rais­ing funds,” Wang said. “In the past, peo­ple in need could only get help af­ter gain­ing me­dia ex­po­sure, but now on­line fundrais­ing plat­forms can pro­mote their in­for­ma­tion among donors more quickly and conveniently.”

“Some plat­forms are de­signed to pro­vide more prod­ucts and ac­tiv­i­ties for the pub­lic to par­tic­i­pate in. It’s es­ti­mated that 32.5 mil­lion peo­ple will par­tic­i­pate in pub­lic wel­fare and poverty-re­lief do­na­tion ac­tiv­i­ties from 2018 to 2020.”

“Twenty per­cent of the do­na­tions China has re­ceived come from pub­lic do­na­tions, and that num­ber has dou­bled with the devel­op­ment of the in­ter­net. The amount of pub­lic do­na­tions keeps in­creas­ing ev­ery year.

“The poverty re­lief mis­sion could never be com­pleted with­out the in­ter­net,” Wang said.

Zha Ying­dong, deputy mayor of Ton­gren in Guizhou, said that com­pared with the more de­vel­oped areas in China, re­mote areas of­ten pro­duce higher-qual­ity agri­cul­tural prod­ucts with lower lev­els of pol­lu­tion.

“Peo­ple liv­ing in rel­a­tively de­vel­oped areas, such as Jiangsu prov­ince, have lower price sen­si­tiv­ity and pay more at­ten­tion to qual­ity. Sell­ing prod­ucts from Guizhou to Jiangsu will ben­e­fit both sides and help to re­lieve poverty.”

Zha said that thanks to on­line channels, more lo­cal farm­ers in Ton­gren are plan­ning to sell their sweet pump­kins and high-qual­ity white tea across the whole coun­try.

dis­cuss ways to use tech­nol­ogy for poverty alle­vi­a­tion at a round­table dis­cus­sion dur­ing the Fifth World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence in Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on Thurs­day.

ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of the China Foun­da­tion for Poverty Alle­vi­a­tion

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

Wang Xingzui,

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