Can Livestreaming Lift China Out of Poverty by 2020?

China’s video and e-commerce platforms say they’re putting rural content creators on the path to fame and fortune, but questions persist about whether their poverty-busting initiatives can actually make a difference.

Mao Meimei has 26 million followers on livestreaming app Kuaishou who tune in to watch her devour culinary delights from all over China. On Sunday, she was joined by the head of a county in rural Shaanxi province to review locally produced mushroom paste and konjak tofu — which viewers were invited to purchase using Kuaishou’s in-app shopping feature. Ten minutes into the hourlong stream, both items had sold out.

Kuaishou is one of a handful of popular social and shopping apps aiming to ensure that 1.4 billion people in China are lifted out of poverty by 2020. At a forum before the United Nations’ International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Thursday, the company announced its new poverty alleviation program, the 10,000 Villages Livestreamer Training Plan. The program aims to find and nurture hidden talents from China’s nationally designated poverty-stricken villages, teaching them how to make videos and then hopefully watching as they reap rewards for themselves and their families through receiving virtual gifts from fans or selling artisanal products via the in-app e-commerce portal.

Kuaishou currently has 200 million daily active users and 400 million monthly active users, and over 15 million videos are uploaded on the platform every day, according to data provided to Sixth Tone. So far this year, over 19 million people have generated income on Kuaishou, with 5 million of these streamers located in impoverished counties, said Song Tingting, vice president of Kuaishou and director of the company’s poverty relief office.

“There are 128,000 impoverished villages in the country and countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered,” Song said during a speech at Monday’s forum in Beijing. The same day, the company also announced partnerships with welfare offices in Guizhou, Qinghai, and other poverty-stricken regions.

Kuaishou — known internationally as Kwai — is one of the most formidable players in China’s booming short-video market, ranking as the country’s second most popular short-video app after Douyin. But unlike its competitor, Kuaishou hosts content creators who hail predominantly from China’s third- and fourth-tier cities. Sixth Tone has previously reported on this growing number of rural content creators, including humble farmers who charm netizens across the country with stories from their bucolic lives while simultaneously boosting local tourism and padding their own pockets.

As these sannong — content creators who focus on farming, agriculture, and village life — produce more videos and generate greater profits, some online media platforms have cheered them on for achieving the Chinese dream and revitalizing rural areas. It’s also a win-win for the video platforms: Rural content is in fashion, and supporting the people who create it fulfills their social responsibility. Continue to read the full article here.


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.