Hi, everyone.
I’m Greg Monk reporting for Discover China. So, the lady that we just
saw there is Shirley and the first time
that I saw her was with that big basket
on her back, full of fruit walking up
these steep mountains
and hills here. So, Shirley’s not your
average resident of a village: she actually has a fan base of
3.6 million online, and she uses that influence
to promote and to sell local produce. So we’ve come here to
Shirley’s hometown in Tianzhu County,
Guizhou Province, to explore and to find out
a little bit more about the place. Tianzhu County is actually one of
the poorest counties in the whole country. Just two years ago, many of the roads were mud;
there was barely any Internet connection. Going back 10 years
many of the homes were falling apart. So what we want to know
is what’s changed over these years, and how have these
improvements taken place? So I’m going to go and pick
some chilies now with Shirley. So, we’re now here at the place
to pick chilies. Pretty much every household
nearby grows chilies and we’re lucky
enough to be here at harvest time. I’ve got my forest fashion hat on.
I’m ready to go pick these chilies! Okay, so what Shirley was
telling me is that all of these
chilies that we see everywhere were actually given to locals by
the government for free to encourage them to grow chilies
and all of the enterprises nearby that need to use chilies can then
take them in at a set price. It’s amazing to me how we
can be so far out in the countryside and still have such an amazing
Internet connection. I mean, literally,
there’s nothing around us but nature and we’re connected to
hundreds or maybe thousands of people all around
China selling chilies. What a wonderful time to live in! So, Shirley was telling me that
she’s been doing these these live streams now
for about two to three years, and when she first started,
she only had a few thousand fans, now she has got well over 3 million. Initially she was only kind of filming
little videos about her life but as she became
more and more popular she used to influence her, actually,
to work with platforms like Kuaishou to help them sell
their products via e-commerce. And she’s now able to make about
3000-4000 RMB ($423 USD-$564 USD)
on an average day and on busy days she can
sell up to 10,000 RMB ($1,410 USD) or
even 20,000 RMB ($2,821 USD). If she ever runs out of products,
then she will go to nearby
farmers – farmers next door, and also help them bring their
profits up as well. So she doesn’t only help herself,
she helps those around her too. Better go and take this
spoon back for her. Shirley used to live even further up
in these hills, but through doing live streaming
she was able to buy pigs
and cows for her family, to build her own vegetable patch,
and even build her own house. Because it’s so peaceful
and so beautiful around here, a lot of people like to come here
on vacation. So this county is actually full of
many new houses, most of which have been made for
those in need of financial assistance. So, people for example who
no longer have the ability
to do agricultural labor, or who have chosen not to,
can return their farmland to
the government and live in these houses
behind me here, thus helping to alleviate the problem
that many poor families have with housing. Better go and help Shirley
with these last few boxes. So, this is the vineyard in which they grow the grapes
for the wine that Shirley produces. There are about 10 employees here
who look after the grapes, grow them, collect them, and make
the wine for Shirley and her family. So I’m really excited to try this wine
to see what it’s like and to see how
different it is from wine in the west. So now the grapes are finished drying,
and what we’re doing now is taking them off the vines and
separating them. This is the last chance for us to pick off
those grapes that are a little bit soft, maybe a little bit past their prime
and not of a good enough quality to go into the winemaking process. It’s sweeter, maybe a little bit more fruity
than most western wines, but it’s delicious. It’s really nice. So it’s not only Shirley who is able to
sell these kinds of products. People all around China are selling their
agricultural products using the Internet, and thanks to the development of
the Internet in China, people not only in the mega cities
but also in rural areas have been able to promote
their products and have access to
this huge market of people. The Chinese style of poverty
alleviation is not restricted
simply to subsidies, there’s also policies in place that
offer skill training and guidance, meaning that people can
develop these skills that are able to help them alleviate
poverty in the long term. So, Shirley hopes that the next step for her
is that she can leave these mountains and continue to develop her business
in the world at large. I, for one, am really excited to see
what’s next for Shirley and I hope you are too.