If you want to know why the Chinese government is keen on e-commerce giant Alibaba, look no further than Beishan – one of China's many "Taobao" villages – farming communities transformed thanks to new job opportunities created by Alibaba's consumer-to-consumer site of the same name.
For years, the town was called "clay oven bread" village due to its long baking tradition. However, everything changed when e-commerce giant Alibaba was introduced.
Entrepreneur Lv Zhenhong used to sell sesame buns, earning $8,000 a year. Today his company BSWolf generates $8 million in annual sales of outdoor gear. His $16 sleeping bags are a best seller on Taobao.
"One out of every three sleeping bags sold on Taobao is ours," he said at his office. "Our goal is to become the number one outdoor equipment brand in the world."
Many of the villagers in Beishan are proud of Lv's achievements and aspirations. Nearly one fifth of the 2,300 families have traded in hoes for computers to set up Taobao shops.
Lv started in 2006. He was hawking snacks and other goods, when he heard that people in a nearby village were selling products to Chinese customers far away using Taobao. He decided to open an online shop. He set up in a 100 square foot room that he shared with his brother.
"Some people from our village saw us and would think, 'How odd. These brothers are always working till late every day. What are they up to? In the first three months of opening a Taobao store, we had no business but we kept on working and didn't give up," Lv said.