Project Details

A close up of an elderly Chinese woman

Taobao 淘宝网- 淘!我喜欢

Creating jobs using an online trade platform in China.

Project URL:

  • Community Engagement
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Social Exclusion
  • Data
  • Geolocation
  • Social Software

Founded in 2003, Taobao is the biggest e-commerce platform in the world. It is an online marketplace that supports consumer-to-consumer sales and trades. The platform has become a site for social entrepreneurship and innovation, especially amongst younger sole traders who are increasingly using the platform as a leg-up onto the employment ladder in a time when youth unemployment is high.

New government regulations in China require children to ensure a minimum amount of “visiting time” for their elderly parents – it is part of a vision for social and community care across the country. But given the often vast distances between families in modern, cosmopolitan China, it is impossible for many children to fulfil this new duty. This has given rise to a significant number of social care response initiatives – social entrepreneurs who have created systems to overcome the mobility barriers faced by many through sourcing social care to elderly parents from within their community and marketing the service on the Taobao platform. It is an example of how Taobao is giving rise to social innovation and helping to respond to new forms of demand, quickly and efficiently.

Taobao is much more than a Chinese version of eBay.

Taobao was designed with Chinese culture at its heart. The trade platform reflects the gift economy principles of China. Trades are conducted through one-on-one negotiations rather than through auctions, and the key trust-building mechanism on Taobao is a chat function that allows you to connect directly with a seller, consult them on their products, discuss prices, and so on – all of this building trust in the lead-up to the transaction.

The model has worked exceptionally well in China: today almost two million Chinese have set up their own shop on the platform. Each job on the site has been found to lead on to the creation of around two and half more, meaning that the site has actually contributed to job creation of 5 million. The majority of these jobs are going to young people aged 20–32, a group suffering disproportionately from unemployment in China, as in many other parts of the world today.

Image 'China Putzehei portrait woman' by Anja Disseldorp

Last updated: 09th of May, 2014

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