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Grass-roots celebrity starts business in remote Guizhou

Author:gzstcj  From:CHINA DAILY Time:2018-11-18 Browse:  Size: Big Middle Small

A 20-year-old woman from Tianzhu county, Southwest China's Guizhou province has become an internet celebrity after failing in the college entrance examinations 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 through the internet. She posted about daily life on Kuaishou, a popular Chinese short video and live streaming app, and got over three million fans.

Born into an impoverished family, Yuan has an elder sister who suffered from polio and an elder brother in poor health. The rural family struggled to make a living on the land.

"She was unwilling to increase our economic burden, so she chose to come home instead of retaking courses," her mother said.

Yuan said that she started to watch Kuaishou short videos in 2015. She never thought that one day she could be watched and loved by so many fans across China.

"Last Father's Day, I went to feed and look after cattle 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 said.

A few docile cattle, a muddy mountain road and an old father attracted half a million hits within several days.

This video brought Yuan more than 1,000 fans and she started to frequently share interesting village life stories such as crop harvesting, mountain road construction, and raft making.

What makes Yuan's story so unexpected is that a series of short videos and webcasts gave her opportunities to improve her family income and even that of other villagers.

"Sometimes I help my mother with cooking when livestreaming. My fans were curious about some dishes like bacon, sausages and pickled tofu." She tried to deliver some local specialities to fans. They said that these delicious foods were natural and pollution-free, quite different from those in the city.

"Her income surpasses 20,000 yuan ($2875.5) a month through livestreaming and speciality sales, which is abundant for our family of nine," her mother said.

As the number of fans grew, more and more local specialities were delivered outside the village. She explored a way for left-behind villagers to improve their income.

Shi Dengshi, a 55-year-old villager, 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 through local speciality production."

Yuan tried to help more impoverished villagers through the plantation of Mucuna fruit, a special agricultural product in Tianzhu county. But the lack of a cold-chain logistics system made it difficult to deliver fresh fruit.

"Approximately 40 percent of the fruit went bad during delivery," she said.

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.

"Who is the target customer and what is the potential product source? How do you manage the relationship with customers? I learned a lot from the program," she said. "I decide to set up a homestay to provide local dishes and beds. It also creates packages for visitors to experience the planting and harvest seasons first hand, promoting the development of rural tourism."

Li Dong, the trainer of the program, said that Kuaishou will continue to give support for Yuan's rural entrepreneurship.

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

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