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Event 26 May 2021: Digit Debates - Live from the farm

How Chinese video apps are changing the global development landscape.

Could China’s new wave of short video apps improve the lives of the global poor? More and more sales are being routed through short video apps like Kwai/Kuaishou and TikTok/Douyin, which allow producers to engage directly with customers over thousands of miles. Using such platforms, Thai durian growers and Rwandan coffee sellers are becoming microcelebrities in China and elsewhere. This talk digs deeper to ask how innovations in digital technology can foster value creation and entrepreneurship at the ‘base of the pyramid’ (BOP) – those 2.7bn people living on less than US$2.5 per day – by integrating them into China-centred digital and commercial networks. By sharing their skills, experiences and their normal farming and life activities directly with customers, new and often strange forms of globalisation are emerging, which promise more equitable treatment for the global poor than existing global market structures.

Through an in-depth case study of a successful platform (Kwai) which has hundreds of millions of daily active users from marginalised global communities, Fu will outline a content-based new inclusive digital business model for grassroot entrepreneurs. She will identify the mechanisms that makes such a platform fair and inclusive for the global poor and look at the impact on income creation, capabilities’ development, and social capital development at the BOP, as well as the impact on the growth of BOP entrepreneurs, and the enabling factors that are essential for the scale-up and success of such a business model.

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