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Livestream a new way to help the poor

By YANG JUN/ZHAO YANDI | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-14 08:24
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Yuan Guihua [Photo/]

A 20-year-old woman from Tianzhu county in Guizhou province has become an internet celebrity after failing the college entrance examination in June last year.

Yuan Guihua, with few qualities commonly believed necessary for success, started a channel connecting her remote Leizhai village to the outside world via the internet. She posted items about daily life on Kuaishou, a popular Chinese app for streaming and short videos, and got more than 3 million fans.

Born into an impoverished family, Yuan has an older sister who suffered from polio and an older brother in poor health. The rural family had long been struggling to make ends meet.

"She didn't want to become a burden to us, so she chose to come home instead of taking the exam again," her mother said.

Yuan started watching Kuaishou short videos in 2015. She never thought that one day she could be watched and loved by so many fans across China on the platform.

"Last Father's Day, I went to feed the cattle and look after them in the hills with my father as usual. Then I made a short video of less than 20 seconds to express my gratitude to him," she recalled. It was her first experience with Kuaishou.

A few docile cattle, a muddy mountain road and an elderly father and a loving message attracted half a million hits in a few days.

That video brought Yuan more than 1,000 fans and she started sharing interesting stories from village life, such as the crop harvest, mountain road construction and raft making.

What was an especially pleasant surprise is that Yuan's series of short videos and webcasts brought opportunities to improve her family income and even that of fellow villagers.

"Sometimes I help my mother with cooking while I'm livestreaming. My fans were curious about some dishes like bacon, sausage and pickled tofu," she said.

She tried to deliver some local delicacies to fans. They said the delicious foods were natural and pollution-free, and quite different from the dishes commonly found in the city.

Her income now surpasses 20,000 yuan ($2,900) a month through livestreaming and specialty sales, which is abundant for a family of nine, according to her mother.

As the number of fans grew, more local specialties were delivered outside the village. She is exploring ways for left-behind residents to improve their incomes.

Shi Dengshi, 55, raised his grandchildren at home and relied on his son, who works as a migrant laborer, for living expenses.

"I never knew that ordinary agricultural products held such economic value," he said. "Now I earn 1,500 yuan a month from that."

Yuan tried to help more impoverished villagers by planting xuetengguo, a specialty fruit in Tianzhu county. But the lack of a cold-chain logistics system made it difficult to deliver.

In September, Yuan was selected as one of 20 internet celebrities to attend the Happy Rural Entrepreneurs Program launched by Kuaishou at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The program provided courses in rural entrepreneurship and business management.

Zhang Fan, the program's trainer, said Kuaishou will continue to support for Yuan's entrepreneurship.

"We will provide various resources for commercial management and brand promotion to help Yuan and other residents become better off," Zhang said.

Zhao Yandi contributed to this story.

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