Crowdfunding to Help the Poor out of Poverty with Dignity

2016-08-02
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       “In the next five years, effort will be made to rid more than 70 million poor Chinese people of poverty.” Chinese President Xi Jinping made such a solemn commitment to the world in the Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum held in October 2015.

  Lifting more than 70 million people out of poverty within five years suggests that over 1 million people should be thrown off poverty each month, which is quite a tough task. So in 2016, the first year of the 13th Five-year Plan, how well the poverty reduction work will be executed will make great difference. When all places across China compete to engage in poverty relief, Longnan, Gansu province took the lead in trying a new pattern in this respect.

  The Department of Commerce of Longnan City and its E-commerce office joined hands with Chinese Red Cross Foundation and Zhouchou.com under NCF Group to hold the “Crowdfunding for Poverty Relief Contest”. From excavating the needs of poverty alleviation to cultivating the anti-poverty leader, from demonstrating projects to connecting resources, the contest explored the anti-poverty chain of “poor farmer + anti-poverty leader + crowdfunding platform + volunteer consumers”.

  The contest lasted for four months after its initiation in February 2016. During the preliminary and semifinal, a total of 141 projects were initiated by over 200 people from nine districts and counties who were college-student village officials, first-line anti-poverty cadres, and young home-returning entrepreneurs. The projects have raised more than 2 million Yuan from over 15 thousand supporters, favoring over 1 thousand impoverished people. Among the projects, some provided support for featured produce like tea, codonopsis pilosula, honey, pepper, handmade pasta; some are humane caring projects which aim to help rural left-behind children and empty-nest elderly; and others are innovative projects which raise money for maker space, family farm, fruits or vegetables picking experience, and microfilm filming. “The aim of our organizing crowdfunding for poverty relief contest is to stimulate the vitality and ability of first-line cadres and college-student village officials, helping them grow into the anti-poverty leaders. It also aims to show Longnan’s great environment and products through the wide spreading of crowdfunding, and to match consumption with investment resource, so as to gather people and funds for poverty relief.” said Zuo Zhangao, General Director of the Department of Commerce of Longnan City.

  Mushroom and honeybee take the lead in the anti-poverty battle

  A poverty-relieving story of Xiaolong, a post-90s generation college-student village official

  “This is the third year that I have served as an official in Sanheba Township, and my service term will expire this September. I am really reluctant to leave Xiepo Village and the people who live here. Also, they are unwilling to see my leaving. This makes me realize the greatness of this cause and the difficulties of the burden. I wish that with our joint efforts, Xiepo Village’s wooden barrel honeybee industry can gradually take shape and have steady production with geographic characteristics, developing a sustainable efficient mechanism for increased income.”

  This is the expectation of Li Xiaolong, a post-90s generation college-student rural official. In 2013, he took part in the college-student rural official examination of Gansu province. Succeeding in the exam, he had been sent to Kangxian County, Longnan city, where he served as Deputy Secretary of Xiepo Village’s Party Branch. From then on, he began his career as a college-student rural official. Kangxian County owns beautiful scenery, thus being called “Jiang Nan of Gansu”, but till now, it’s still a nationally impoverished county due to the severe natural environment, remote barrier mountains and large population against little land.

  During the “Crowdfunding for Poverty-Relief” contest, Li Xiaolong initiated two crowdfunding projects, introducing Xiepo Village’s traditional wooden barrel honeybee to the public. The contest had gained over 340 sums of funds of 50 thousand Yuan from 16 provinces and cities nationwide in less than 2 months, which benefited 8 impoverished farmer households with 37 people.

  This is the first time that Xiepo Village has experienced the crowdfunding. In the beginning, Xiaolong set a very low goal due to the lack of experience. The first phase’s crowdfunding target is only 5 thousand yuan, but the final result surprised him by gathering over 21 thousand Yuan for the project, exceeding 440% of the goal. Therefore, in the second phase of crowdfunding, Xiaolong doubled the fund-raising goal but still got 280% more support than expected.

  The success of crowdfunding gave Xiaolong confidence in this mode. He said that “comparing with other channels, crowdfunding promotion is much easier, which can spread conveniently through Weibo, Wechat moments at the faster speed and with more guarantee to raise fund.

  Xiaolong’s story is not a unique case; instead, there are numerous cases of college-student rural officials helping impoverished farmers get rid of poverty in the “Longnan CrowdFunding Poverty-relief Contest”.

  Wang Ji, a college-student rural official of Liujiagou, Xihe County, had enhanced Liuhe hemp paper’s popularity and the craftsman’s income through crowdfunding, and passed down the local handmade rind paper-making craft which is under the threat of dying out.

  Yang Li, Special Village Officer Assistant of Manping Village, Chengxian County, made the wild vegetables a delicious dish for people in town through crowdfunding, which also broadened the source of income for the impoverished.

  They are all college-graduate village officials who struggle in the anti-poverty basic level, and help the impoverished farmers step onto a sustainable poverty-relief road with their own knowledge.

  The story of home-returning entrepreneur Wen Delong about his “Miss Mushroom”

  Home-returning entrepreneur Wen Delong from Jindong Township, Liangdang County, Longnan, has cultivated a kind of mushroom with only three-centimeter height. He picked up a beautiful name for his mushroom – “Miss Mushroom”.

  Mushroom is an advantageous industry in Liangdang County, one of national impoverished counties. Graduating from Shaanxi Institute of International Trade & Commerce, Wen Delong gave up a well paid job with 8000 Yuan salary in Shenzhen in 2012 and went home to build his own business. After years of development, he has become the most famous mushroom plant household.

  Initially, Delong got no support from his parents, and what is worse, his decision was objected to by his parents. Because his younger brother suddenly passed away, he made up his mind to return home and look after his parents. But his parents did not accept his thought, always considering it a proper thing to find a job.

  However, Wen Delong’s decision to return home was greatly supported by the government, under the support of which he started up “Xin Lin Long” cooperative society. Then he invited the impoverished in the village to join, which had not only solved the employment issues of the impoverished but also had improved the productivity of the cooperatives. By excavating 3 fishponds, feeding over 5000 chickens, planting organic vegetables, selling local honey, it had driven the development of the village.

  Although his business enjoyed strong development momentous, he was still preoccupied with his concerns. As the high quality farm products depend on the purchase of distant buyers every year, they are faced with the problems such as few buyers, no brand and low profits. Thus, when Jindong township government and Shanghai “Momma say good” e-commerce company approached him and wanted to expand the sales of agricultural product through crowdfunding, Wen Delong agreed immediately and started the project “listen to the mushroom story told by little girl from Longnan Liangdang” in the crowdfunding network.

  After 20 days’ crowdfunding, with the involvement of over 100 supporters, Wen Delong’s project raised over 10 thousand Yuan successfully. This outcome excited Wen Delong a lot, “Crowdfunding” broadened the promotion channel greatly and promoted products to the whole nation, and the simple operation mode enabled the poor in the mountainous area to enjoy the convenience of “Internet+”. It’s said that the crowdfunding had truly helped 2 impoverished families including 5 people increase their incomes.

  “It’s pity that the project time is too short.” sighed Wen Delong, “I will definitely keep trying crowdfunding, expanding the scale, having more and more workers go home to earn money.”

  Crowdfunding for poverty relief, a newly explored mode for poverty-relief

  “Crowdfunding for Poverty Relief” is a new poverty-relief mode first brought and practiced by the charity channel of Zhongchou.com under NCF Group in cooperation with Livelihood Protection Project of Chinese Red Cross Foundation, aiming to incubate the poverty-relieving leaders. “Substituting consumption for donation is the charity mode we have consistently encouraged and advocated, which provides natural advantages in the field of poverty relief,” said by Cao Xiaohui, who is in charge of the charitable crowdfunding of Zhongchou.com, “For instance, a poverty-relieving leader can revitalize a village and ten urban households can help one rural household out of poverty by purchasing the latter’s agricultural products. We hope that the crowdfunding can help achieve all these goals.”

  Crowdfunding for Poverty Relief organizes and motivates poverty-relieving leaders, such as first-line poverty-relieving officers, college-student rural officials, and home-returning entrepreneurs, mainly through the cooperation with local government to develop or initiate crowdfunding projects to help the impoverished sell high-quality farm produce and improve their income, in an effort to make them throw off poverty with dignity and achieve sustainable prosperity. “The mode of crowdfunding for poverty relief has captures the public attention to the impoverished and remote areas, got support from consumption and enabled more social powers to get involved in the solution of poverty issues”, said Liao Ling, Director of the Community Financial and Accounting Department of Chinese Red Cross Foundation, “The contest of crowdfunding can help us discover and select top-quality projects, obtain subsistence development fund, deeply support production process, provide more social resources for the poor through the establishment of industrial value chain groups including farmers, experts, consumers, NGO and so on so as to better connect the market though the Internet.”

  Lifting more than 70 million people out of poverty within 5 years is an important task of the 13th Five-year Plan. It needs to mobilize social resources widely to participate in the tough anti-poverty battle. The development of Internet broke the time and space limit, connecting the impoverished people and the consumers. Supporting the poverty-relief work by way of using “consumption” instead of “donation” not only increase the impoverished people’s income but also enhances their value of laboring. By encouraging the poor people to work hard for a better life and driving the consumers’ enthusiasm in poverty relief, this can more efficiently and more directly solve the social problems. As Huang Yizhen, Project Manager of the charity channel of Zhongchou.com, said: “I was born after 90s and don’t know much about poverty or care much about poverty relief work, but when poverty relief connects with concepts like crowdfunding, consumption, I can know it directly and get involved.”

  “Crowdfunding for Poverty Relief” effectively improves the depth and width of the public participation in the charity work, and coordinates social resources, forms a good ambiance of “everyone doing charity”. This is a national beneficial attempt in propelling poverty relief. “I saw Longnan’s crowdfunding project shared in my Wechat moments. It’s a nice story, and I was touched by the home-returning entrepreneurs’ enthusiasm. Then I tried to support two projects of them, only to receive a chicken and some mushrooms, all of which are fine products.” said Mrs. Zhu, a supporter of crowdfunding living in Beijing, “I bought quality products I need, and helped those in need incidentally. Doing charity this way does not cause much pressure on both sides and makes me feel really great."

  As the pioneer of “Crowdfunding for Poverty Relief”, Zhongchou.com creatively called for the social strengths to support the poverty relief in remote areas. In 2014, a temporary deputy county director from Shanxi helped the farmers sell fine walnuts to cities through Zhongchou.com, reducing the intermediate section and increasing the farmers’ profit. Meanwhile the director applied part of the crowdfunding to the construction of local facilities to improve rural living quality. In 2015, Zhongchou.com accelerated the crowdfunding poverty relief in Jiangxi, Guizhou, Henan provinces, helping the impoverished to connect with the wide social resources. Under the great support of its parent company NCF Group, Zhongchou.com fulfills its platform advantages and professional superiority to be involved in the charity cause, and coordinates the charity resources of other affiliated companies of NCF Group, in a bid to make more and more people enjoy improved life quality brought by technology development. Therefore, this deserves to be promoted and duplicated in more areas.

  Original link of Xinhua Net: http://news.xinhuanet.com/gongyi/2016-07/07/c_129124827.htm

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