Towards a Bi-Dimensional Poverty Alleviation through Localization of Green Entrepreneurship
Towards a Bi-Dimensional Poverty Alleviation through Localization of Green Entrepreneurship
The Experience from Jiangjia Village of Zhejiang Province to tackle material and spiritual poverty

Challenges

In September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was agreed upon at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit. This new framework for international cooperation to promote sustainable development between 2015 and 2030 is composed of 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are connected with each other. That’s to adopt a sustainable development approach in a unified way, emphasizing the harmonious development of the economy, environment, and society.

With the rapid pace of modernization, an increase of material wealth and enriching of cultural life, companionship, security, mutual trust among each other, and an overall sense of well-being are declining. Instead, the number of people suffering from depression is increasing day by day. The acceleration of urbanization has created a flourishing economy but also resulted in empty-nesters and left-behind children in the countryside. Mental issues have become a hot word in both urban and rural areas. "Spiritual poverty alleviation" has come up as an urgent social demand, in parallel with "material poverty alleviation".

Jiangjia Village, located in the Southwest corner of Zhejiang province, is a typical case facing up to such challenges of both material and spiritual poverty. Decades ago, it was one of the poorest villages in Zhejiang province with a pretty low per capita income of nearly 515.00 RMB in 1991. Some villagers went to cities far away from doing manual work as migrant workers, leaving their old parents and young children home. “The money we earned from outside could not compensate the cost of the spiritual fulfillment of family reunion”, according to Jiangjia villagers who were ever the migrant workers.

There should be a solution to tackle material and spiritual poverty for China’s villagers based on the full consideration of local conditions. On the way from being poverty-stricken to well-off, there should be not only the increase of economic income but also the upgrading of the happiness index. No doubt, a wealthy and harmonious community is one of the important sources of happiness in a village.

Towards a Solution

To pursue a bi-dimensional poverty alleviation for both material and spiritual demands, Jiangjia village in Zhejiang Province kicked off an initiative as localization of green entrepreneurship which applied a bamboo processing and production chain. With the encouragement for entrepreneurship from the local government, a poor villager Mr. Laoxia[S1] , after full discussion with the elder members of his family and neighbors, started his own business of bamboo-broom-making in 1993, together with tea planting and Chinese Longjing-tea making, which developed a set of green and harmonious solutions. The key factors can be described as below:

On the green-development-oriented “material poverty alleviation”

  • All the materials used in the whole process in both broom-making were waste bamboo branches, discarded tires and other wastes recycled. The whole process and production chains created no pollution and fossil carbon emission.
  • Meanwhile, traditional and eco-organic techniques are applied throughout the tea-planting, tea-leaf picking and dried-tea making process, in order to build a green low-carbon home for all the villagers.

On the "Spiritual poverty alleviation"

  • The employees were housewives and some male labor force in the neighborhood, most of whom used to be migrant workers in cities. This localization of green entrepreneurship encouraged the return of the migrant workers, promoted the integrity of the family. The villagers who returned were satisfied with their higher income and enjoyed leisure time with their families. The empty-nesters and left-behind children who yearned for their family reunion day and night were now wearing smiles. This was not only upgraded the happiness of the villagers but also helped to build a stable and harmonious society.
  • The division of labor was based on the individual’s advantages and willingness, and all employees worked together as a big team. They worked together, helped each other in the cooperation of the production chain, during which, communication and mutual assistance were enhanced. Therefore, the companionship, security, mutual trust and the sense of belonging successfully took place of the loneliness, depression and insecurity. All the interviewees expressed their satisfaction and happiness.

Green and harmonious results

Xia’s bamboo-broom-making business provided more than 30 direct job opportunities, with indirect jobs and other income-earning opportunities almost spreading into each household in this village. This meant that the broom production chain had created a neighborhood-sharing model of green poverty alleviation in the community. That is, the network of neighbors, relatives and friends became a green industrial chain. Many migrant laborers came back home to join Xia’s business, and this helped the village to get out of the dilemma of empty-nesters and left-behind children. The average income of the employees was 350 yuan per day, roughly 2.3 times of that they earned as migrant workers before. Xia’s green initiative aimed to get rid of poverty and he also helped his neighbors to get rich together. In addition, the whole process was green without any pollution and fossil carbon emissions.

This experience of bi-dimensional poverty alleviation reflects the integration of economic and social benefits, material and spiritual poverty alleviation, which pushes forward the construction of a harmonious society in targeted poverty alleviation while avoiding the "crowded but lonely community” and "spiritual poverty" in modern life. Such mode should get more support from the local government and social funds for upgrading the facilities, techniques and management in order to encourage more such practices for better results.

 

Contact Information

Name: JIANG Wei, SUN Salahan Title: research fellow, student Organization: Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, CASS Email address: jiangwei@cass.org.cn Wechat number: rainbowcambridge

Countries involved

China

Supported by

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences(CASS)

Implementing Entities

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences(Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology)

Project Status

Completed

Project Period

2014 - 2017

Primary SD

01 - No Poverty

Secondary SDGs

08 - Decent Work and Economic Growth, 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities, 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

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