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Social media provides leg up in poverty alleviation,June 02, 2020 Adjust font size:

Deng Xiufang, 71, has no idea what WeChat is. She even doesn't have a mobile phone.

As a “left-behind” elderly person in Xiejiamiao village, Nanchong, Sichuan province, Deng is one of the poorest in the village. Her children work in cities with an income that barely covers living expenses.

But Deng has found a way to make her fortune, thanks to WeChat and several other popular social networking services, including Kuaishou and Douyin – two of China’s major video-sharing platforms.

“I don’t know how they work,” she said. “But I know our farming products can be sold through these new interesting channels.”

Deng’s rugged mountain village is famous for producing lemons, and she is good at slicing and drying them.

For Lu Ruiyang, the village chief, the “new interesting channels” Deng talks about represent a new concept, “social commerce”, where transactions are made through social media, saving the costs of store rental and advertising.

“Our village produces good-quality lemons, loquats and mushrooms,” Lu said. “In the past, few people outside knew about this, so we could not reach out to customers.”

With WeChat and other social networking tools, the customers are “just a click away”, he said.

Even during the novel coronavirus outbreak, the village still received orders from loyal customers. “This is the power of social media,” Lu said.

As the customer base has been established, the next thing the village is working on is establishing a brand name for its products. “We are going to promote our village as a brand name to differentiate us,” Lu said, adding the village has registered sales of 1.1 million yuan ($154,000) in 2019.

Deng is happy she can make money at her age. “The truth is I do earn more than before. Lemons in our village are good, and it’s good more and more people want to buy.”

The village has 247 people in poverty and it aims to eradicate all its poverty by the end of the year, in keeping with China’s goal to end poverty by 2021.

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