Livestream host with disability making a difference

By FENG ZHIWEI in Changsha and ZHANG YU | | Updated: 2022-07-01 16:01
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Zhao Yuan, 50, is a livestreaming host who sells agricultural product in Hunan province. [Photo provided to]

While dealing with a disability herself, Zhao Yuan has succeeded in carving out a career in e-commerce. She has helped more than 2,000 other people with disabilities sell agricultural products.

Zhao, 50, was born in Jianghua Yao autonomous county of Yongzhou, Hunan province. Before she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in her 20s, Zhao was a teacher at a local school. Arthritis is a disease that causes permanent damage to the joints, especially the fingers, wrists, feet and ankles.

Eventually confined to a wheelchair, she had to leave her teaching post and started to make a living in business.

In her hometown in a mountainous area, Zhao opened a hotel and earned her first profit. With the money, she helped pay the school fees of 13 poor students until they graduated from college.

In 2017, Zhao created a sales platform offline called Sanhao Xiansheng, meaning good and fresh. Through this platform, she mainly sold goods produced by her friends with disabilities.

However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the offline platform lost money and Zhao turned to online sales. She became a host of live broadcasts on social platforms, introducing her friends' products, including brown sugar, sweet potato flour and honey. She also tells the stories of disabled people.

In 2020, she sold out almost 50,000 kilograms of oranges and other agricultural products, with sales volume topping 2 million yuan ($298,600).

The produce was from 55 agricultural bases run by the disabled across the province, involving more than 2,000 people, Zhao said. She has hired 57 hosts, all with disabilities, and each one can earn 10,000 yuan a month.

"We are planning to nurture more than 1,000 hosts like us in our province," she said.

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