Oct 29, 2020|

Richard Liu on Poverty Alleviation: Better to Teach People Fishing than to Give them Fish


by Ling Cao

JD has cared about social responsibility since day one. When JD’s online business launched in early 2004, Richard Liu, Chairman and CEO of JD.com, implemented a program in which every member of the staff sponsored the tuition fees for a total of 38 low-income students in Jingle county, Shanxi province.

Liu has always been particularly focused on poverty-stricken areas. He realized that there were two challenges for selling local specialties in these areas. One was that the poorer the place was, the more difficult it would be to sell products at good prices. The second was that the poorer the place was, the less developed the logistics infrastructure would be. Liu was determined to help address these issues.

Since then, JD.com has supported smaller local specialty brands in building their businesses in a variety of ways. For example, JD has leveraged nationwide logistics to help these local specialty businesses with last mile delivery, now providing same or next day delivery service for 90% of the administrative counties in China.

Additionally, JD has leveraged its e-commerce and experience and technology capabilities to help local specialty businesses increase their brand awareness. For example, JD launched a running chicken program in 2016 to help local farmers raise and sell chickens. The company uses blockchain technology for maximum quality assurance and full traceability.

JD helps support businesses at every step of such programs, from farming, production, marketing, logistics and more. Other JD-supported programs include ducks and fish, providing high quality and green products to customers, as well as helping local farmers rise out of poverty.

As of September 30th, JD has put 3 million kinds of products on its platform from poor areas in China. Sales have surpassed over RMB 100 billion yuan, benefiting over 1 million needy families.

JD’s poverty alleviation efforts across China range from industrial support, employment, start-ups, finance, healthcare and more.

Qingchuan county in Sichuan province is another example. Local fungus sales were impacted by a strong earthquake. In response, JD began helping local famers sell fungus online in 2012, and expanding to other product categories As a result, the farmers’ sales increased by around 50 times.

In terms of employment, JD has helped many poor farmers accelerate their careers.

“We want to provide a sustainable way to help people in poor areas,” Liu said. “We’d rather teach them fishing than give them fish.”

Following Liu’s idea, JD has already helped 50,000 low-income people start new jobs. In addition, JD has launched several thousand training courses related to e-commerce, farming and other experience, and established 103 e-commerce incubators of e-commerce.

Earlier this month, JD announced supportive measures for the agricultural industry in poor rural areas, with an aim to help the industry achieve an output of RMB 1 trillion yuan in the next three years. The company will use its strengths in supply chain, logistics, finance, technology and service to boost performance for the industry.

Liu added, “I hope more and more companies and institutions can join the effort in poverty alleviation, making more people enjoy a happy lifestyle.”