For many rural citizens of China, earning a living is an unproductive grind. More than one-third of the country’s working population consists of rural migrant workers. Despite the long and difficult hours of labor, the average income of these jobs is only approximately 45,000 yuan (less than $6,400 USD). That amount is enough to cover the laborers’ expenses and send some money home to their families but is not enough to ensure long-term financial stability.
Not only are the wages low, but the work conditions are poor. Laborers often resort to living in overcrowded dormitories or apartments that cost a large portion of their monthly salaries. There are hardly any welfare benefits in any migrant-based jobs and social insurance is rare. Workers also struggle to acquaint themselves with their new locales. Hardly any have enough free time to truly settle into their new cities and report feeling isolated and out of place.
Such occupations can no doubt feel limiting. That is why some people in bleak working environments make their own careers. With some ingenuity and with technology as simple as a smartphone, impoverished laborers are continually improving their quality of life. Here is the story of a person who used streaming to make an income.
From Working Construction to Streaming Chickens
Liu Jinyin, a Chinese chicken farmer in Luzhou, Sichuan province, used to struggle with his meager migrant worker’s salary. Making just 48,000 yuan (around $6,750 USD) annually, Liu worked in construction, followed by a facility that manufactured zippers. After that, he worked as a goat breeder. In his former jobs, he was unhappy with both his wages and his quality of life.
In early 2017, he decided to try something new. With his smartphone and a live streaming app, he began sharing everyday life on his family’s rural farm. He wanted to tap into the ever-growing streaming market in China. Liu features his morning chores, various maintenance projects on the farm and descriptions of the flora and fauna that he encounters every day, among other activities. Gradually, he began to amass a following while streaming to make an income. Urban Chinese often commented that they used to live in rural areas and enjoyed the videos because they reminded them of home. People from other areas of the world were simply fascinated with the way of life and liked the casual look into someone else’s routine.
Tapping into his entrepreneurial side, Liu began to develop a regular schedule for his casual streams. His fanbase responded, and he now has nearly 200,000 followers and makes $1,500 USD per month. Best of all, he is able to stay home and work on his family’s farm full-time. While some of the inhabitants of his hometown were apprehensive about his new line of work, Liu paid his critics no mind. “I’m… now able to stay at home to take care of my parents. Everyone’s happy. This has changed me,” he once remarked.
Other Ways Technology Can Share Prosperity
Liu developed a following with nothing more than a good idea and a smartphone. He now makes nearly three times his prior income in a much more comfortable environment. There is no reason why anyone else in his situation could not find the same success if they had the right tools to do so.
Streaming to make an income is not necessarily the only option either. Some people use basic technologies to make and share videos, advertise their handmade goods or seek microloans to own and operate local businesses. With the proper tools, people living in or near poverty can better support themselves, their families and their communities. Remote entrepreneurs do not have to worry about commuting and have the freedom to tend to their homes and young children while working. Often, the global market is better for the sale of specialty items, like jewelry or art pieces. Access to a bigger market generates more profits.
Ways Anyone Can Help
When business people begin their ventures, they primarily need customers to interact with. A person can visit websites that sell fairly-produced handmade goods to offer support. One can also engage with men and women on microloan services, many of whom share interesting and inspirational stories.
From a political perspective, it is also important to support the Digital GAP Act, currently in the U.S. Senate. This bill would allocate funds to give 1.5 billion people first-time internet access by 2020. Not only would this legislation improve educational, political and societal operations, but a huge number of people would have better economic opportunities thanks to its implementation.
Liu Jinyin’s story is a great example of how no career should be off-limits for anyone, no matter their background. It also shows a small glimpse of how the newest generation of impoverished young adults is using modern technologies to improve their lives. Whether it is buying art or watching chickens, one can give these hardworking people support. The story of a Chinese chicken farmer streaming to make an income is truly amazing.
– Molly Power